Many are conflicted over how to balance concerns over unemployment and the federal budget deficit, whether to create more jobs or curb spending. Some 70% listed addressing joblessness as a priority, but are skeptical of the Obama administration’s stimulus program.
Americans are wary of increased spending, but were unsure of most deficit-reduction measures, and opposed a two percentage-point increase in income tax rates on the middle class, or cutbacks in Social Security or Medicare benefits. Respondents said only that they would consider removing the cap on earnings covered by the Social Security tax, eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy enacted under Bush, and an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 from 65.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they are responding to the economic climate by hunkering down, 23% say they are getting back to normal, and only 16% are seeing opportunity and taking risks.
Perceptions of the economy’s performance split sharply along party lines. While 48% of Democrats say the economy is improving, only 17% of Republicans and 19% of independents agree.