December 11th, 2009
01:10 PM ET
9 years ago

Poll: Lowering deficit more important than boosting economy

Washington (CNN) - Americans are more concerned with lowering the massive budget deficit than boosting the ailing economy, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNBC survey released Friday morning say President Barack Obama and Congress should worrry more about keeping the budget deficit down even if that means delaying the economic recovery. That's 23 points higher than the 33 percent who feel boosting the economy should be the top priority, even if that means larger deficits now and in the future.

The poll also indicates that by a 54 percent to 33 percent margin, Americans prefer using the estimated $200 billion in leftover TARP funds for deficit reduction rather than for more stimulus spending.
TARP, or the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was created last year by the Bush administration to bail out American banks, financial institutions and auto makers that were in danger of collapsing in the recession. Earlier this week, Obama outlined a new proposal to boost jobs and give more help to consumers and small businesses, and possibly pay for such a plan with unused bailout funds. Congressional Republicans object to such a move.

A CNN survey conducted last month indicated that two-thirds of the public thinks the government should not run a deficit, even when the country's in a recession and at war.

"Only 30 percent say it's OK for the government to run a deficit in a time of war and economic turmoil," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Even among Democrats, 59 percent don't like the idea of federal deficits."

The CNBC poll was conducted December 1-3, with 808 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is 3.5 percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

Filed under: Deficit • Economy • President Obama
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    And there's not the slightest chance the Dems in Congress will pay the slightest attention to this, or to anything else the American people want. After all, they're smarter than we are, and know better what we ought to want, even if we're not bright enough to realise it.

    In that regard, the Dems are a lot like modern Republicans. The only difference is that the Reps, instead of being smarter than we are, are more moral than we are and just know their superior morality gives them the right to tell us how to live our lives.

    Bah! A plague on both their Houses! And their Senates too!

    December 11, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Alice, AR

    I agree that the left over TARP monies should be used to pay down the debt. My only problem is that the GOP seems to be leading this effort. They did not care at all about the cost of these two wars and how their policies ran up our debt. President Clinton had the economy in very good standing when he left office and President Bush sent it in the toilet. Where were these GOP leaders then?

    December 11, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Nelly

    I think the people who put paying down the deficit before the economic recovery are people who actually have a job, or at least a good bit of savings for the future.

    December 11, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Kerzell, CA

    This cracks me up! $5 Trillion in surplus now $10 Trillion in debt. That means the GOP took us down $15 Trillion dollars. They had to spend the surplus and then continue putting us in debt. And they are the ones complaining about deficit spending.

    Then they don't want to regulate – the very reason we are in this problem is because of no oversight, no regulation.

    Thanks GOP for farting in the room, walking away, and blaming someone else for the smell!!

    December 11, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. phoenix86

    What? The majority of America doesn't agree with Obama's tax and spend policy?

    No matter, Obama will ignore you and bet on your ignorance.

    December 11, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. mytchieyhoz

    Everywhere... In any division there always politics... There always someone graving foa a position that makes them selfis and liers... And sometimes there are ready to destroy someone's life just to get what they want.... Lets just live simple... Keep dreaming but be contetnted in what we have.... Simple life means no complication and less stress...

    December 11, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    That's a crock, totally.

    If there are more jobs, more revenue (taxes) go to paying down the deficit.

    If there are NO MORE jobs, the wealthy keep their money and the poor DIE - the Greedy Old Obstructionists are our DEATH PANEL.

    Wake up America.

    December 11, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Sea.gem

    ...and the Dems are trying to rush a law in allowing the fed debt to rise even higher before year's end...this way they hope the American people forget about it before next election...bunch of cons that ARE responsible for the current economy...repubs (and Greenspan) asked for investigations back in 2004 and 2006 into Fannie Mae practices and accounting (lorded over by Frank and Dodd)...the collapse there triggereed what happened on Wall Street...but since Dems are in power they keep this quiet...smokescreens and investigations evedrywhere else but inside their own house.

    December 11, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. Debby

    CNBC are you kidding. I would never trust a liberal stations polling.

    December 11, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Hugo

    DC could take all the TARP monies, bailout monies, tax receipts etc. and it will still not be enough to balance the budget. They have found that they can vote themselves the key to the cash cauffer's and it is done until this Administration exits.

    Question: What is the difference between Jimmy Carter and Obama? Answer: Very little....

    Inflation 3rd qtr 2010.....

    December 11, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Morgan from the Hill

    Where were all these poeple when Bush was running up never seen before deficits while cutting taxes through reconciliation (51 votes in 01 and 53 votes in 03) for the top 2%.
    Gold up 300% under Bush and we lost 50% of the dollars value against a socalist EURO from 2001 to 2008.

    December 11, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    obama saw the polls and decided to jump in bed with wall street and health insurers.

    December 11, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Marcus

    The point that is missed is that people are more savvy than people in Washington give them credit for and know massive Government spending won't do anything to "boost" the economy.

    December 11, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I'm sure the people polled were employed, there is no way unemployed people with employment benefits running out and families that are in a financial crisis want the economy boosted which means jobs. Boosting the economy, people getting jobs does and will boost the economy.

    December 11, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. cusecrane

    See, the economy must not be so bad if people don't care about job creation. I wonder how many would change their mind if the government stopped writing them unemployment checks....then the deficit spending wouldn't be so bad.

    December 11, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Reformed Republican

    America: Land of the free, home of the uneducated. It's a self evident truth that this poll shows most failed Econ 101.

    Pay attention folks, it's this simple:
    To pay down deficits you need tax revenues.
    To get tax revenues people need to be working.

    Let the government facilitate job creation THEN worry about paying down the debt.

    The real life example is buying a house (before the bubble) – You have to go into debt before you can start building equity.

    Now, what's so hard to understand? It's JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!
    Ignore the obstructionist rethugs and blue dogs bleating and braying – lets put America to work the debt will take care of itself.

    December 11, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Obama-Mama

    I tend to think they go hand in hand and should be both tackled simultaneously........

    December 11, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. yuri

    We hope somebody from the Dems pay heed to this poll opinion, rather than pooh pooh it. The GOP, and maybe some economists seem to concur w/ deficit reduction rather than profligate spending.

    December 11, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. mjm

    Obama could "boost" jobs by spending $787 billion, what makes anyone think he can create jobs spending $200 billion more?

    Of course you pay down the deficit. They spent 3-4 trillion in the first year....this stuff doesn't grow on tree.

    December 11, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Big Al in Va.

    I am fiscally conservative in my own life and I have been concerned about our deficit for many years. I can understand the opinion that we should be focused on cutting the deficit and not worrying about the economy. My concern is that our economy is still so fragile with the unemployment numbers where they are that failure to focus on our economy could be worse for the deficit in both the short and long term. If we fall back into a recession, as many are predicting will happen, the deficit will grow even larger rather than shrinking as some are hoping. That frightens me even more than spending returned or unused TARP money on stimulating job growth for small businesses.

    December 11, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. aneanderthal

    Yes that is right and Obama and the libertards still don't get it. They never did and that is why they are going down in 2010 and 2012. CNN and the rest of the state run media never got it either, that's why there ratings are so low. Instead all of the state run media and libertard politicians called us names and demeaned us, which has only infuriated us more.

    December 11, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. RealityKing

    Clearly the Obama, Harry and Nancy show are not interested in what the American people want..

    December 11, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. dak

    This poll proves one thing: 56% of the 808 adults who responded to this survey don't know squat about economics and what it takes to keep a country and it's populace going. It would be great to have no deficit, but unfortunately we aren't there yet! The Republicans ran through the surplus left by the Clinton administration and put us in such bad financial shape that we are in the worse recession since the Great Depression. We must spend money to stimulate the economy or we will never get out of it!

    December 11, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Paul from Phoenix

    Because Americans know that getting rid of the debt is one of the best ways to imrpove the economy.

    I just wish the politicians would figure that out.

    December 11, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    It's a recession when you read in the paper that people have lost their jobs, can't find work and are losing their homes and foregoing medical care and even food. It's a depression when you lose YOUR job and...well, I think it's a safe assumption that the 54% who don't think the government should have staved off massive bank failures or should be stimulating the job market aren't missing any meals.

    December 11, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
1 2 3 4 5