Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Silly Comments on an Important CNN Poll

This poll shows plurality support for Obama's jobs proposal and majority support for all components of the proposal. The difference is clearly due to large numbers of people who said they didn't have a judgment of the whole proposal, presumably becaue they didn't know what was in it.

Importantly there is strong support for sending money to state governments so long as it is associated with the words "teachers", "first," and "responders" but not "fungible." A 2009 poll showed low support for sending money to state governments when it was associated with the word "deficits" (an irrelevant point on an old forgotten poll, respondents may have thought that running a deficit was a condition for getting ARRA money while the question just observed that states governments had deficits).

One outlier is a bare majority supports "increasing federal aid to unemployed workers." Being insatiable, I assert that the question was miss phrased. "increasing" is ambiguous. Does it mean compared to current policy (99 weeks of UI) or compared to current law (26 weeks of UI after the current temporary bill expires).
How is one to answer if one thinks that current policy should continue ? I'm sure that most respondents interpreted the question as more generous than current (temporary emergency) policy. The vague wording might have been chosen to lump together continuation of benefits in weeks 27-99 and hiring subsidies for the long term unemployed. But the effect, I think, is to convince people that the issue under debate is UI for 100 or more weeks.

Also to be really really twitty, the poll asks "How much do you blame the Federal Reserve Bank for economic conditions today." I would answer "not at all, because no such entity exists". I don't blame the Federal Reserve Board much either. This question refers to something which doesn't exist, or ambiguously to one of many Federal Reserve banks. I don't have such a mild view of all employees of the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas, Minneapolis and, I think, St Louis. I am thinking of the three Presidents (not, pace Ronald Suskind, their chairmen).

I am very sure that fewer people would have blamed the Federal Reserve Board (by the way "Infrastructure Bank" sounds like the worst product name since "Edsel.")

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