Dylan Scott is a GOVERNING staff writer.E-mail: email@example.com
Americans inextricably link their economic well-being to the federal government's financial stability, a recent Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll finds, but they have a deep skepticism about whether the president and Congress can do anything to improve the country's fiscal fortunes.
Generally, 70 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track, the highest percentage since the Heartland Monitor Poll began in April 2009. A whopping 71 percent are not confident that the federal government, through the supercommitee or any other venue, will reach an agreement to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Most tellingly, 79 percent of those polled said the federal government's $15 trillion deficit, and the stalled efforts to resolve it, have at least some impact on their personal financial situation. Half of the poll's respondents said they have enough money to get by, but "find it difficult to save and invest, whether for retirement or other purposes."
As for the source of the federal government's budget troubles, when allowed to choose two options, Americans named the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 74 percent of the time. The Bush tax cuts followed with 37 percent. The economic downturn in general received blame from 32 percent of respondents, and President Barack Obama's domestic spending programs took a 30-percent share.
How would Americans resolve the debt crisis? A plurality of 40 percent supported increasing government spending on infrastructure, education, scientific research and programs for the unemployed, even if it means raising taxing to offset that increased spending. Another 32 percent suggest reducing taxes for individuals and businesses and reducing government regulations and spending, even if it means the deficit will increase in the short-term.
Looking toward the future, though, poll respondents showed optimism. An even 50 percent think the economy will improve in the next year; 46 percent believe it will get worse. As for their own financial situation, 46 percent expect it to stay the same, while 38 percent believe it will improve and only 14 percent think it will get worse.
The poll was conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2 via landline and cell phone. It consists of a national sample of 1,000 adults ages 18 and over. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.