Poll: Americans support environmental regulation

Politico_jpegThe Rockefeller Foundation and Time Magazine recently released a survey of 2008 Americans which found, among other things, significant support for environmental regulation as a response to the economic down turn.

Posted July 17, 08
By Ben Adler, Politico

Americans are deeply worried about their economic prospects and they
want government to invest in expanding economic opportunity and
assisting those in need, according to a new poll released today.

The Rockefeller Foundation/Time magazine poll of 2,008 Americans,
conducted June 19-29, found significant increases in economic anxiety,
especially among young people and minorities, and dissatisfaction with
the federal government’s response.

The percentage of Americans concerned with their own economic
situation, at 47 percent, has nearly doubled from 24 percent in January
2007, when the Rockefeller Foundation conducted a similar study. The
percentages of Americans who fear losing their job and have failed to
pay a bill in the past year also rose since last January.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they are facing greater
financial risk than in the past and 55 percent say that Congress is
hindering them from achieving economic security.

Generation Y, defined as 18- to 29-year-olds in this survey, was the
most pessimistic age cohort, with the bleakest view of the future.
Forty-nine percent say America was a better place to live in in the
1990s and will continue to decline, compared to 40 percent or less for
every other age cohort.

“There was really surprising data on how many young people feel so
badly about their financial future,” said Teresa Wells, chief media
strategist for the Rockefeller Foundation.

“Half [of young people] think America’s best days are behind us,” said
Margot Brandenburg, associate director of foundation initiatives at
Rockefeller. “They have good reason to.”

She noted that half reported having gone without health insurance in
the last year. Sixty-two percent said that they have failed to pay a
bill on time because they could not afford to. They are more likely
than older people to have not gone to a doctor because of cost, to
worry that they are not saving enough for retirement and to have
borrowed money from a friend.

And young Americans seem readier than older Americans to turn to
government for the solution. Eighty-six percent say more government
programs should help those struggling under the current economic
conditions.

African-Americans and Latinos feel especially hard hit by recent
economic turmoil, according to the survey. Ninety-six percent of
African-Americans and 88 percent of Latinos believe the economy is on
the wrong track. Congress is not the only political institution that
gets a share of the blame: Almost 80 percent of African-Americans say
the president is hindering their pursuit of economic security.

“What we see is things are worse for everyone but more so for black and
Latino workers,” said Brandenburg. “They are more likely to be
uninsured, to think that they aren’t saving enough for retirement and
lack the savings to handle an emergency. And they are more vocal in
calling for government to play a role.”

For example, 93 percent of African-Americans and 87 percent of Latinos favor public works projects that would create jobs.

One notable trend is the emerging popularity of environmental
regulation as an economic imperative. Stricter pollution limits and tax
credits for alternative energy development were supported by 84 percent
of all respondents, the highest of any proposal. Increasing the minimum
wage, expanding public works projects were nearly as popular, with 83
percent and 82 percent approval respectively.

Increases in unemployment benefits, government-funded childcare and
government programs to provide health insurance were also supported by
more than two-thirds of respondents as well.

“If you look at what Americans are trying to say to their government
leaders,” said Wells, “they are very interested in environmental
solutions that can help the economy.”

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