(AFP) – Mar 3, 2011
WASHINGTON — The US public favors government action to spur job growth over cutting spending by a sizeable margin, according to a new poll out Thursday that may spell trouble for the White House's Republican foes.
The survey, conducted February 24-28 for NBC television and the Wall Street Journal, showed President Barack Obama's job approval had dropped to 48 percent from 53 percent in January and found deep gloom about the US recovery.
Just 29 percent of respondents said the economy would get better over the next year, a drop of 11 points from January and the lowest since August, the Wall Street Journal stressed.
"This is a country that refuses to feel better," Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart, was quoted as saying.
The poll, which had an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, found that 49 percent of the US public disapproved of Obama's handling of the issue, against 46 percent who approved.
But the news for Republicans was not much better, with signs that vast swathes of the US public -- including independent voters thought to decide US elections -- were rejecting their drive for historically deep cuts in government spending.
By a 56-40 percent margin, more respondents said Washington's top priority should be job creation and economic growth over slashing outlays, and 52 percent worried Republicans would go too far in their quest to fight the deficit.
NBC said just 23 percent of independents listed spending cuts as their top issue, while two-thirds of independents expressed concern that spending cuts would hurt them and their families, against about half of Republicans.
"It may be hard to understand why someone would try to jump off a cliff" to cut spending, McInturff told the Wall Street Journal of his fellow Republicans, "unless you understand that they are being chased by a tiger, and that tiger is the Tea Party."
The poll came as Vice President Joe Biden and other top White House aides were to head to the US Capitol for talks with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as top Democrats in a bid to find a compromise on a long-term spending plan.
For months, Republicans have carefully tied their calls for slashing spending and rolling back regulations to job creation, and the poll did not make clear whether the public had accepted or rejected that linkage.
The survey found that the most popular potential spending cuts were subsidies to build new nuclear plants, with 57 percent support, federal aid to state governments, at 52 percent, and the Environmental Protection Agency, at 51.
But just a few months after Obama sealed a deal with Republicans to extend tax cuts on wealthy and middle-class Americans alike, the poll showed broad support for raising taxes on the wealthiest earners.
Asked whether they favored imposing a surtax on millionaires, 81 percent said that would be totally or mostly acceptable.
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