Most Americans are still worried about the possibility of a double-dip recession and are refusing to borrow, whether for housing or even a few extra dollars to help them get by, according to a new Allstate-National Journal poll
The survey of 1,000 adults taken September 28 through October 2 found that Americans are increasingly concerned about personal debt and taking on new interest payments, and view borrowing as an obstacle to achieving the “American Dream” rather than something that might help improve their lives over time.
For example, 56 percent of those surveyed said borrowing now in a down economy would only encourage people to spend beyond their means, and only one in eight said they had actually borrowed money just to get by.
The poll also found that 8 in 10 of the respondents, or about 79 percent, “believe the federal debt and deficit have a meaningful impact on their personal finances.”
That’s one reason why 56 percent of those surveyed said they favor deficit reduction over new spending at the federal level, and said government was the problem — not the solution — when it comes to dealing with a bad economy.
“The consistent preference expressed in the poll for reducing debt — both individually and collectively — suggests that, like the Depression, the Great Recession could have a lasting impact on how today’s Americans borrow and spend throughout their lives,” said National Journal Group Editorial Director Ronald Brownstein.
“At the least, it’s clear that the fierce downturn has triggered a profound moralistic streak in millions of Americans who equate debt with profligacy, and profligacy with an erosion of the discipline required for economic success, both individually and as a nation,” he said.
While most participants in the poll said reducing the debt is more important than trying to stimulate the economy with more spending, 71 percent said they aren’t confident at all in their elected leaders’ ability to trim the federal budget deficit.
At the same time, 40 percent said they don’t trust the government to make the right decisions to help the nation out of its economic slump. That concern has worsened since the last Allstate-Journal poll in May, when 36 percent said the government is the problem not the solution.
Overall, the concerns expressed in the poll indicate that Americans are still worried about the possibility of another recession and their own ability to weather it. The poll also found that Americans remain consistently pessimistic about the direction of the country, with 70 percent saying its headed in the wrong direction.
Many blame President Barack Obama. His approval rating in the poll was 44 percent, which is lower than nine previous Allstate-Journal surveys.
When asked if they would vote to re-elect him, 41 percent said they would, while 51 percent said they would vote for someone else.
Still, 40 percent said they would trust Obama to deal with the economy better than Republicans in Congress. Only 33 percent said the Republicans would do a better job.
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