Voters want Bush to take more active role in economy

November 19, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Bush should reverse his hands-off approach to the economy and forge a more active partnership with industry, according to a bipartisan poll released yesterday.

By a ratio of 3-to-1, respondents endorsed a "hands-on" economic role for the government in a poll taken for the Council on Competitiveness, a non-profit, bipartisan group of industrialists, unionists and academics. The council is unrelated to the President's Council on Competitiveness, chaired by Vice President Dan Quayle.

George M. C. Fisher, chairman of the council and chief executive officer of Motorola Inc., said, "Voters want their economic ills cured, and they believe a government and business partnership is the perfect prescription."

Howard D. Samuel, AFL-CIO representative on the council, denied the group was seeking a national industrial policy but said: "The American people have not been fooled. They believe the government is part of the problem. They believe the government has to be part of the solution."

The poll of 1,003 voters was taken early in September. "If anything, the economic attitude we found in this poll has gotten more negative and more pessimistic since then," said Geoffrey D. Garin of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling organization.

Among those questioned, he said, "Most say the U.S. has not done a good enough job of keeping up with a developing world. . . . The U.S. has been too concerned with helping other countries and has not done enough to put American needs first."

Linda DiVall, a Republican pollster with American Viewpoint, which also was involved in the poll, said: "I think the voters are saying that much as they saw President Bush take a very aggressive and active lead in international affairs, they are looking to him to play that type of role in the economy."

She said the poll demonstrated "an opportunity for the Democrats to be successful" in 1992. "A year ago the Democrats probably didn't have a legitimate claim to be president. Now, they do have a claim."

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