Debt fears drive renewed economic concerns

It’s not surprising to learn that following a summer of contentious battles over the federal debt ceiling and turmoil in the stock market, Americans feel renewed concerns about the global economy and anxiety about another recession. Ordinary folks are uneasy about borrowing, and they think Washington should be wary as well.

This quarter’s Allstate National Journal Heartland Monitor poll, the 10th in the series, explores Americans’ experiences with and attitudes toward debt, both on a personal level and in government spending. The results reveal a population that views taking on personal debt as an obstacle to – rather than an investment in – achieving the American Dream.

  • Nearly eight in 10 Americans believe the federal debt and deficit have a meaningful impact on their personal finances and concerns about that impact are fueling a strong preference for deficit reduction over stimulus spending;
  • Although some argue that spending during a downturn is critical to stimulating the economy, 56 percent of respondents say it’s the wrong approach;

Americans also question the federal government’s role in solving the country’s economic problems.

  • Forty percent of those surveyed say the government itself is the problem, and while 29 percent say they’d like to see the government play an active role in ensuring economic benefits, they’re not sure they can trust the government to do so effectively;
  • Seventy-one percent of respondents say they lack confidence in Washington’s ability to reduce the federal deficit.

“The message the American people are sending is clear: Washington and the business community need a new approach to leadership and a renewed focus on issues that are the building blocks of economic security,” said Joan Walker, Allstate executive vice president.