TARP Leftovers? Deficit Reduction, Not Stimulus

The recently completed “Wealth in America” survey done for CNBC by Dem pollster Peter Hart, and GOP pollster (and my biz partner) Bill McInturff, had an interesting question on the unused TARP money.  The survey was conducted December 1-3, 2009 among 808 adults.

The question:

There is some two hundred billion dollars left over from the federal government’s program that provided financial help to banks and financial institutions that were in danger of failing. Would you prefer that this money – be spent as part of the government’s stimulus program for the economy OR be used to help reduce the federal budget deficit?

Only 33% say the money should be spent as part of the stimulus program, while 54% say it should be used to reduce the deficit.  (Another 8% volunteered “depends/some of both” and 5% weren’t sure.)

The data is a very convincing reinforcement of other polls asking slightly different questions.  Americans are more concerned about the deficit and spending right now (long-term impact) than they are about jobs and the economy (short-term impact).  It’s ironic how the press bemoans the lack of long-term thinking among the public, but these data are very clear — don’t make tomorrow much worse for a little pain alleviation today.
(The conclusions in this blog post are solely my opinion, and do not reflect the perspective or input from Peter Hart/Hart Research or from CNBC.)

Public Opinion Strategies