Size Does Matter

For Americans, support for Barack Obama’s economic stimulus program is less than the sum of its parts.


For Americans, support for Barack Obama’s economic stimulus program is less than the sum of its parts. Only a bare majority of Americans support the concept of a $775 billion package in its entirety, but about three in four Americans support most of the pan’s individual parts. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans support the passage of a new economic stimulus by a margin of 53 to 36 percent. On federal tax cuts for businesses, support is 75 to 20 percent. A lot of Americans also favor federal subsidies to create new jobs in the renovation of the nation's transportation system.The Obama economic team needs to convince Americans that the cost of the stimulus pales in comparison to the the devestating decline of the $13 trillion GNPFirst, the $775 billion figure intimidates many Americans, so the administration should always attach the spending number to the magnitude of stimulating a declining GNP of about $13 trillion. Team Obama might also want to raise the ante to get a better and quicker result. I don’t think $1 trillion will sound much more daunting than $775 billion, and the higher number may speed up the pace of the economic recovery. In for a dime, in for a dollar.Obama economic advisers shouldn’t talk about the size of the entire package without discussing the specifics like energy conservation research and development, tax cuts and upgrades for highways, bridges, mass transit and health technology that will create or save about 3 million jobs. And don’t use the word “infrastructure." Only political and economic junkies know what term means.In this case, the angel is in the details. The Obama White House will need a hard push to sell the package to the public but support for the specifics indicates that support for the plan as a whole will grow as Americans get to know more about it. Brad Bannon is president of Bannon Communications Research and polls for Democrats, labor unions and progressive issue groups.


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