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Americans Think The Government Should Fund Recovery [AUDIO]

New Jersey and New York are still waiting to see if Congress will approve the President Barack Obama’s $60.4 billion funding request to pay for recovery and rebuilding after super-storm Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy damage on the barrier islands
Hurricane Sandy damage on the barrier islands (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

A new national poll released today by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Public-Mind asks voters across the country if they think it should be the federal government’s responsibility to foot the bill. Most say that it should be even if it drives up the federal deficit.

According to the national poll of registered voters, 66 percent say that the federal government should fund reconstruction, while 23 percent say that the federal government shouldn’t be spending money it doesn’t have, even for a natural disaster. Support for federal relief is higher among Democrats (77 percent) than Republicans, but a majority of Republicans (54 percent) support it as well. Only 23 percent – including 36 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats – think that federal finances should take precedence.

In Washington, D.C., federal funding for Sandy relief has been caught up in the fight over the looming fiscal cliff. Obama’s request for $60 billion in federal money to help impacted communities has been called into question, with the Conservative Club for Growth opposing federal assistance on budgetary grounds and Republicans in the House of Representatives asking for cuts to other programs to offset the spending.

Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and an analyst for the poll explains, “Historically, spending to rebuild after a natural disaster has had bi-partisan support. These results show that’s still true in the public, but it doesn’t seem to be the case in Washington.”

The poll results also show that the President doesn’t have much leverage over Republicans in Congress on this issue. Only 48 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as President, and only 11 percent of Republicans do.

“While Democrats are motivated to say that things are going well to support the President, reality does step in,” says Cassino. “The people just starting out were hit hardest by the economic downturn, and if you can’t get a job, nothing is going to make the outlook rosy.”

The survey of 814 registered voters was conducted nationally by telephone with both landline and cell phones from December 10, 2012 through December 16, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.

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