STATE — A large majority of Americans – including majorities of both political parties – say the federal government should pay for reconstruction of areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy, even if doing so drives up the deficit.
According to a new national poll of registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, two thirds (66 percent) of voters said that the federal government should fund reconstruction, while 23 percent said 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 – said federal finances should take precedence.
In recent days, federal funding for reconstruction and relief in the wake of Superstorm Sandy have become caught up in the fight over the looming fiscal cliff. President 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.
“Historically, spending to rebuild after a natural disaster has had bipartisan support,” said Dan Cassino, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and an analyst for the poll. “These results show that’s still true with the public, but it doesn’t seem to be the case in Washington.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 814 registered voters was conducted nationally by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Dec. 10 through Dec. 16, and has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.
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