Prescriptions For A Sick Economy

There's bad news and good news for George Bush in a new BUSINESS WEEK poll. Americans are opposed to a cut in capital-gains taxes. And by 57% to 39%, they want the government to stress job creation, not inflation control. Antitax sentiment runs high, with the public turning thumbs down on broad-based tax increases. But Bush can take heart in a few findings: His go-slow strategy seems to be in tune with the feelings of many Americans, who don't want the government to take any of several recently proposed moves to jump-start growth. They also reject Democratic calls for a government-business partnership to aid U. S. competitiveness.

JOBS ARE THE THING Economists believe that creating new jobs often leads to high inflation. If you had to choose, would you say the federal government should work harder to create more jobs or to keep inflation under control? Create more jobs--57% Keep inflation under control--39% Not sure--4%

LOWER TAXES OR A LOWER DEFICIT? The federal deficit has now risen to nearly $300 billion a year, which some argue can hurt the economy. But some economists also believe that only a tax cut for middle-income families will speed economic growth. If you had to choose, which would you favor the federal government doing -- cutting taxes for middle-income families or cutting the federal deficit? Cutting taxes for middle-income families--49% Cutting the federal deficit--48% Not sure--3%

A CAPITAL-GAINS CUT? THUMBS DOWN President Bush wants to cut taxes on capital gains. Some argue that a cut in the capital-gains tax would spur economic growth. Others say such a tax cut only helps business and the wealthy. Do you favor or oppose a capital-gains tax cut? Favor--37% Oppose--54% Not sure--9%

NAY AGAIN Would you favor or oppose a cut in the capital-gains tax if it means raising other income taxes to offset losses in revenue for the federal government? Favor--21% Oppose--71% Not sure--8%

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? In order to spur economic growth, do think the federal government should:

Should Should not Not sure

Grant tax credits for a wide variety of investments by business?

45% 49% 6%

Let companies deduct the costs of their plants and equipment more quickly? 43% 48% 9%

Increase government spending to help businesses develop new technologies, such as computer chips?

42% 56% 2%

Grant a tax credit only for research- and-development investments? 38% 56% 6%

Reduce the income tax that corporations pay?

24% 73% 3%

WORST-CASE SCENARIOS If there were no other way to cut the deficit while maintaining spending on programs such as Social Security, would you be willing to see:

Willing Not willing Not sure

An increase in federal income tax rates for married couples with annual incomes of $125,000 or more?

74% 25% 1%

An increase in taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and luxury items? 73% 26% 1%

An increase in the tax on imported oil?

52% 45% 3%

A national sales tax?

38% 60% 2%

An increase in everyone's federal income taxes?

33% 65% 2%

An increase in the gasoline tax?

32% 68% 0%

A CLAMOR FOR NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE Would you favor or oppose a national health insurance plan that would pay most health care costs and that would still allow people to pick their own doctor and hospital, if it requires a 5% payroll tax, with 4% paid by employers and 1% paid by employees? Favor-- 81% Oppose--18% Not sure--1%

FIE ON INDUSTRIAL POLICY Other countries take a more active role in promoting industry and making their businesses more competitive abroad. Would you like to see the federal government take a more active role in helping specific industries or should it leave it to the free market? Take a more active role-- 34% Leave to free market--61% Neither--2% Not sure--3%

Survey of 1,258 adults conducted Nov. 12-18, 1991, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates Inc. Results should be accurate to within 3 percentage points.

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