Most Americans are concerned about the economic future of the country. FedSmith readers are no different.
There are several differences between federal employees and any other Americans. For one, the federal government is going to be the focal point of the massive amount of government spending that is already occurring and likely to occur as a result of the stimulus package that emerges from Congress. Federal agencies will receive billions of dollars to spend on various programs.
Many Americans have limited knowledge of the government. They go to the Post Office, receive a Social Security check and receive mail from the Postal Service but have little knowledge of how the government works on a day-to-day basis.
The result is that the opinion of federal employees on the government spending that is being considered and implemented is likely to be of importance to those who do not receive a regular paycheck from Uncle Sam for providing a service to the American public. If federal employees–who know what the government does, know how it works and have better information about how money in the spending package is likely to be spent–are confident that this record-breaking spending to try and revive the economy that it may help to restore confidence in the American public. On the other hand, if these same federal employees are not confident it will work, why would average Americans have any confidence in the economic recovery package?
Earlier this week, we asked readers to respond to several questions on the economic stimulus. We ran this survey for a very short time because the package is moving forward in Congress and we wanted to get immediate feedback from readers on their confidence in the package and attitudes toward the spending stimulus.
We had a good response. Within a short period, over 2100 readers voted in the survey. About 500 readers sent in their written comments.
The responses feel into two broad categories. In one group, readers supported the efforts of President Obama and think that the stimulus package will work. Perhaps as a holdover from the recent national elections, many readers made an argument along the lines that President Bush caused the problem and those who supported him should not be quick to criticize the new administration and to give Democrats a chance to solve the problem. Some readers cited the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seemed to believe that since we spent the money in these efforts, it made sense to try and resolve the current economic problems by spending money on internal problems.
On the other hand, many readers are concerned about the economic implications of massive spending. Their logic is generally that future generations will be paying for the large amount of money we will be borrowing; that the spending is less about economic recovery and more about implementing new spending programs for programs or organizations that have little to do with our economic recovery.
We have picked a few comments below that reflect the most common written opinions that were submitted.
The bottom line in the survey: 69% of those responding do not think the stimulus package will have a positive impact on the current economic situation in the United States.
Here is a summary of the responses from readers. A sampling of comments follows the summary.
|Focus on government spending||196||9%||2111|
|Focus on tax breaks||627||30%||2111|
|Balance spending and tax breaks||1032||49%||2111|
|$350 billion or less||598||28%||2111|
|$400 – $800 billion||364||17%||2111|
|The sky is the limit||79||4%||2111|
Federal employees work in a political environment in the sense that they programs and policies they work to implement are determined by the nation’s political process. The typical federal employee is not a politician but is aware of the impact that the political process has on their agency in particular and the federal government in general.
Perhaps for this reason, many of the comments reflect a partisan political point of view from one side or the other as you will see from this sampling of comments.
An Army supervisor from Tacoma, WA says the Republicans are the problem: "I don’t think the public really realizes how deep this recession is; this past administration has really placed the economy in a direction that is leading to a depression. The Republicans need to stop playing the part of an obstructionist and get with the program. They are so afraid that If the President’s plan work (sic) they will not see the White House for 8 or even 16 years, so, they really want this to fail which means a lot of Americans will fill (sic) the effect."
An analyst from the Social Security Administration in Richmond, CA also blames Republicans: "Republican teeth gnashing over the size of the package is outrageous and exposes the Repubs as frauds on the subject of ‘fiscal responsibility.’ Tax cuts won’t do the job as anyone with any understanding of the current national psychology and the depths of the recent economic tailspin can understand."
A revenue officer from the Internal Service in Portland, OR supports the spending program: "The economy is a disaster & the policies that got us here will not get us out. ‘Tax cuts’ is (sic) not the answer to all economic problems!"
An engineer with the Department of Energy in Richland, WA thinks we need "change": "While there is some risk of not working, to do nothing or go back to failed policies is unacceptable. Change is needed."
An educator from the Navy in Pensacola, FL cites the war in Iraq as part of the rationale for his view and support of President Obama: "We need to allow our new president to do what we elected him to do. President Bush didn’t allow the costs of a war in Iraq to dissuade him from doing what he wanted to do to achieve his goals. Now we need to spend money here in the US to help ourselves. Times are tough, and we need to get America back to work the way Roosevelt did by creating and fixing our broken infrastructure."
A health insurance technician from the Army in El Paso, Texas supports Obama and blames Bush: "I believe in President Obama’s assessment and trust he and his administration would do everything they can to help get us out of the mess George Bush and his cronies left us in!"
A nurse from the Army in Tacoma, WA made this observation in support of his/her opinion: "The Republican got us into this situation; they need to get on board."
As one might surmise from the number of comments that do not support the stimulus package, most of the comments were opposed to the stimulus package spending. Here is a sampling of these comments.
A contracts specialist from Health and Human Services in Washington, DC wrote: "We – meaning the American tax payor (sic) – cannot afford this. Not because of the amount or so-called good intentions. But because meddling in a situation that was caused by the very same thinking behind the stimulus package will only result in massive fraud, and my biggest fear, a huge spike in inflation or hyper inflation."
A manager from Treasury in Denver, CO sees significant inflation in our future: "This amounts to nothing more than ‘generational theft.’ Use the money wisely to create jobs, stabilize the economy and save peoples’ (sic) homes. Do not use the money for dog parks, prostitue (sic) shelters, Hollywood Movie Directors, STD Testing, and new signs for Vegas–these should go thru the normal appropriations process. Give me a break!!"
An FAA employee from Scottsdale, AZ is opposed to socialism and sees the stimulus spending as a problem: "The government bail out should never have started. The tax burden being placed on the American public will never be resolved. This country can not continue rewarding people/companies who fail. We are not a socialist country YET. Please, lets not act like one."
A Dept. of Transportation manager thinks the process is being rushed: "The process requires much deliberation and give and take by all parties. That is not what I am seeing. What I see is one party trying to push through what it wants. That is contrary to the process of working through it for all Americans and not only those who think its their time to do what they want."
An officer from ICE in Washington, DC has a short, direct comment: "Obama is bankrupting the country."
A physical scientist with the Dept. of Interior in Salt Lake City says we are placing a burden on future generations: "Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve the underlying issues. There is so much waste in this stimulus package that all it will do is burden our children and grand children with higher taxes to pay for this mess. This looks more like a payoff than an economic stimulus. Just like the last administrations stimulus bill, which had to be done "now" or the country would go to hell, I didn’t see much change when that was passed, and I think that this is the same thing."
A biological scientist from the Forest Service in California does not agree with the underlying philosophy behind the large amount of government spending: "I fail to see how we can spend our way out of debt. It has not worked for private individuals, I do not think it will work for the federal govenment. I think we need to cut taxes across the board, not just for the rich, not just for the corporations, but for everyone, business and individuals."
A timber sale administrator with the Forest Service has a warning: "We will be stealing from our grand kids if we pass this. Also, it includes nationalizing health care and federal oversite (sic) of insurance and encourages rationing health care even in the private sector…is this stimulus? Old and arthritic people (baby boomers) better watch out."
A manager with the FAA in New York City says: "A whole lot of pork in this bill no mayter how much the president says there is not. Pelosi and the president should be ashamed of their self (sic), They just can’t resist being politicians. I’m afraid we are on the slippery road to being a socialist country just like Europeans."
An environmental specialist but the Bureau of Prisons in California thinks America is in big trouble: "Looking at what is in the stimulus package, as always its full of extras. We see how the bail out of 700+ billion dollars has changed the economy. Not to mention the 40+ billion for car companies. Keep this up and the American dollar will be worth less than the paper its printed on. We would be better off letting the big business collapse and the mom and pop small business will carry USA like it always has. 850 billion+700billion+40 billion=America is in trouble."
A retired physicist from Dept of Defense has this comment: "There is too much pork in the current proposal. Also, we should benefit from Japan’s experience. Throwing money at the problem didn’t rescue their economy; why does anybody think it would save ours?"
A structural engineer from the Corps of Engineers in Louisville, KY says the stimulus package will destroy our monetary system: "The massive "stimulus package" will only dramatically aid in the destruction of our monetary system."
A safety manager from Dept. of Defense in Colorado Springs, CO says that tax cuts would be more effective: "Tax cuts are the only proven formula to address the economic slow down that we are in. This idea of spending our future generations into bondage to debt was tried with Carter and resulted in catastrophe. Cut the capital gains tax, and lower the tax rate of all who pay taxes and watch this economy soar."
So, there you have a sample of the comments from readers expressing their views on the future of America and proposals for economic recovery. Our thanks to those readers who took the time to vote and send in their views on this issue.