Feb. 2 — Just days after President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech, an overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) approve of the way he is handling his job as president, according to a new NEWSWEEK poll. But majorities also support a full debate on domestic issues and Congress’s right to know what happened during energy-policy meetings between Bush Administration officials and executives at Enron.
MOST AMERICANS agree with the plan Bush outlined in his address for finding and defeating terrorists around the world (63%), defending against terrorism at home (63%) and education (51%). But fewer people agree with the President’s plans on stimulating the economy (47%), tax cuts (46%), health care (40%) social security (38%), the environment (37%) and energy policy (37%).
Opinion is also split on the effect the President’s spending priorities will have on the deficit. Thirty-eight percent say his spending plans should be scaled back for budgetary reasons. Twenty-two percent say it’s important to do everything he’s promised regardless of the impact and 26 percent say the tax cuts approved last year should be delayed or eliminated to reduce the impact on the deficit.
In his speech, Bush also referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as countries developing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Sixty-four percent of Americans think the President was telling those nations that Washington is keeping tabs on their activities. Only 19 percent thought Bush was issuing a serious threat of military attack. The president also called on Americans to volunteer their time to help their fellow citizens, but only 26 percent think many people will take up volunteerism.
On Enron, 52 percent say it’s important that Bush say more than he has so far about the collapse of the energy company and its connection to his administration. A 60 percent majority says Congress’ right to know what happened during energy-policy meetings between Enron officials and Bush administration officials is more important than the president’s right to maintain the privacy of what happens in such meetings (30%).
Still, 59 percent think the White House is doing a good job of balancing civil liberties and the war on terror. And a 55-percent majority also thinks there is no need for any change in the way the prisoners at the Guantanamo military base are being treated. Thirty-two percent say they have been treated properly, but that the United States should take steps to more closely follow Geneva Convention procedures to maintain support from European allies. Only six percent say the prisoners have not been treated properly and the Pentagon should make changes.
Despite the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, 69 percent of Americans think it is better for the United States if reporters remain in Pakistan. Just 24 percent say it’s better for all journalists to leave Pakistan to reduce the chances of more kidnapping of Americans.
For this Newsweek Poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates interviewed by telephone 1,008 adults aged 18 and older on Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2002. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.
© 2013 Newsweek, Inc.