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TARP Kills: Political Careers in Peril from Bailouts; Americans Overwhelmingly Support Government Stimulus to Create Jobs

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, has been under heavy attack. Right-wing pundits have spent months railing against it. Most Americans think it was ineffective, and the Obama Administration completely botched the sales job when it over-promised what it would accomplish. Despite all that, a vote for the stimulus package seems unlikely to be a political negative, according to a new Selzer & Co. poll for Bloomberg News. Advocating more government spending to create new jobs would make a candidate more appealing to most Americans. When asked how the following positions would affect support for a candidate:

More Likely Less Likely Wouldn’t Matter Not Sure
Supports spending government money to create jobs and stimulate the economy 58 24 17 1
Voted to give financial assistance to the banking industry when it was in crisis 19 51 29 1

An amazing 58 percent of Americans would be more likely to vote for candidates who support increasing government spending to promote jobs, and less than a quarter of Americans would be turned off by that position. The public really does want New Deal- style government activism to produce much-needed jobs during this recession.

The real political kiss of death is not the stimulus package or deficit fears, but bailouts like TARP. Having voted for that is a real negative. The American people are strongly opposed to the bank bailout, with the Bloomberg/Selzer poll showing 58 percent of people feeling it is was an unneeded give away to Wall Street.

Not only would most Americans be more supportive of politicians promoting government spending to bring down unemployment but they also think it is far more important than worrying about the deficit. The overwhelming majority, 70 percent, think reducing unemployment should be the top priority of the government, instead of reducing the deficit, which only 28 percent think should be the top concern.

We learn from this poll that people support government spending to create jobs, even if it requires ignoring the deficit in the short term. We also know from political science that increasing employment and average disposable income really helps the party in power politically. So, armed with these facts, Democrats have instead abandoned efforts to use government spending to increase employment and instead are in a tizzy about the deficit. No one should be surprised that November is shaping up to be very bad month for Democrats.

They have again chosen to embrace bad policy, which is also terrible politics. Of course it is we “immature” progressive bloggers, who have been arguing for the smart policy and even better politics, direct government spending on job creation, who are ignoring the looming political disaster facing House Democrats who embrace the White House’s terrible decisions.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at