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Poll: Public has lost hope in stimulus plan

August 17, 2009 |  2:45 pm

A majority of the public supported the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program in February.

Now, the majority see no good coming from the spending.

Just 38% of 1,010 respondents in a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll believe the $787 billion in stimulus spending will "make the economy better" in the long term.

Another 38% expect the plan to leave the economy in worse shape, while 22% believe it will have no effect.

Obama In February, just after the House passed the stimulus bill, 52% of respondents in a Gallup poll were in favor of the measure.

Another question in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup poll, completed Aug. 6-9, asked whether people were "worried, or not worried, that money from the economic stimulus plan is being wasted."

Forty-six percent said they were "very worried" about wasted spending, and 32% were "somewhat worried." Just 20% said they weren’t worried.

That’s a loaded question, though, because most people probably figure they should always be worried about wasteful government spending.

Far more distressing is how poll respondents see the economy faring one year from now. Just 30% believe the recession will have ended by then, while 54% expect the U.S. still to be in recession (or, perhaps, back in recession), and 14% expect the country to be in a depression.

The numbers jibe with the slide in consumer confidence measures since June, even as the stock market has surged on hopes for the economy.

Wall Street has had a lot more faith in a rebound than the average American. But maybe Wall Street and Main Street aren’t too far apart on the 12-month outlook: Many big investors are optimistic about a near-term bounce in the economy as companies restock depleted inventories. But finding a genuine optimist about the economy and stocks in 2010 is a lot more difficult.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: President Obama. Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg News

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