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With the November elections looming, the 4% Growth Project asked SSRS, a respected independent polling firm, to survey what Americans think about the prospects for strong economic growth. Following up on the poll it conducted in April, SSRS found broad awareness of economic issues and general agreement on the impact of some policy prescriptions. Respondents agreed strongly that “getting the federal budget in balance” would make a “big difference” (59%) or “some difference” (28%) in the ability of the U.S. economy to grow at a rate of 4% annually instead of the current 2.5% (averaged over the past decade). Only 10% thought it would make “no difference,” and only 3% replied “don’t know.” Similar spreads of opinion were found regarding “stabilizing the value of the dollar” and “lowering tax rates for businesses that say they will create jobs.” Asked whether “lowering tax rates for everyone” would help the economy, 39% of respondents replied it would make a “big difference,” and 35% replied it would make “some difference.” Although both of these totals are down slightly from the April poll, less than a quarter of respondents (22%) replied it would make “no difference.” Some differences of opinion emerged regarding immigration. Asked whether “limiting immigration” would help the economy, nearly two-thirds of respondents replied it would make a “big difference” or “some difference.” But asked whether “bringing in more workers from other countries” would promote growth, nearly 40% of respondents answered “big difference” or “some difference,” suggesting significant support for immigrants when they are seen as workers. Respondents also split over the likelihood that U.S. growth would ever match that of India, which has grown at an annual rate of more than 5% for the past decade. Half of the respondents thought it was “very likely” or “somewhat likely,” but nearly as many (44%) answered “not too likely” or “not at all.” The SSRS survey was conducted in mid-August. At that point, less than a third of respondents had heard “experts or politicians talk about a U.S. growth rate of 4%.” Since then, both presidential candidates repeatedly referred to economic growth in the first debate. So, even with less than a month to go to the elections, there is still time for the idea of 4% growth to … grow.
Robert Asahina has been a newspaper and magazine editor and writer, a book publishing executive and editor, and a data management consultant. He was editor in chief and deputy publisher of Broadway Books, president and publisher of the adult publishing group of Golden Books, and vice president and senior editor of Simon and Schuster; deputy managing editor of The New York Sun and an editor at The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, George, and The Public Interest; and a consultant at Freddie Mac. He is the author of "Just Americans" and of numerous articles and reviews for The Wall Street Journal, Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere.