The public’s on board

THE PUBLIC’S ON BOARD…. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests Americans have a pretty progressive view of how the federal government should respond to the economic crisis. There are concerns about the deficit, but the public seems to value the importance of stimulus through spending.

Asked about the economic-stimulus package, now estimated to cost $850 billion over two years, 43% of people surveyed called it a “good idea,” while 27% said it is a “bad idea.” The rest didn’t have an opinion.

Even Republicans and independents think GOP lawmakers should work to move the legislation forward. Asked whether Republicans in Congress should do everything to stand firm for their party’s principles and oppose the legislation, or look to compromise with the Obama administration, 68% of Republicans and independents chose compromise, with 20% picking standing firm.

By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, people preferred government spending to create jobs over tax cuts to give Americans more money to spend. Large majorities endorsed many details in the plan, with 89% saying they like the idea of creating jobs through increasing production of renewable energy and making public buildings more energy efficient.

When asked about areas in which Obama’s rescue plan could potentially be seen as going “too far,” the only issue in which “a majority of people registered concern was with providing aid to corporations facing bankruptcy.”

Poll respondents have low expectations about the economy in the near future — three out of four expect the recession to persist for at least another year — but continue to support Barack Obama in large numbers. Despite some recent hiccups, the poll found 71% approving of the president-elect’s handing of the transition.

What’s more, “On a series of measures — from being seen as easygoing and likable to being perceived as a good commander-in-chief — Mr. Obama rated higher than President George W. Bush or former President Bill Clinton did shortly before they took office.”

Not a bad way to get started.