Many lack faith in Clinton plan for economy Poll shows rise in skepticism

June 06, 1993|By New York Times News Service

As President Clinton struggles to return to the centrist policies that won the election, an increased number of Americans view him as a liberal, and many say his economic plan relies too heavily on raising taxes and would do little to help the economy, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Most Americans do not appear convinced by Mr. Clinton's repeated efforts to show that his economic remedies will place a heavier burden on rich people than on the middle class. And they have grown increasingly skeptical about the fairness and effectiveness of the plan.

The optimism many Americans had early this year that the economy would improve has largely dissipated, with only 13 percent now saying the country is on the rebound. Recent economic data offer only spots of encouragement.

Job growth jumped in May, and sales of autos and new homes have climbed, but retail sales have been disappointing. Consumer and business confidence have declined markedly.

Clearly troubled by the president's call for new taxes, by his series of seeming political blunders and by a perception that the economy is in terrible shape, Americans have been more critical of Mr. Clinton than of any president of the postwar era at equivalent points in office.

His rating stands at 38 percent of the public approving how he handles his job, with 47 percent disapproving. Half the people say that the president, who campaigned as a populist and

vowed to end the status quo in Washington, has lost touch with average Americans.

Mr. Clinton's latest political stumble -- the uproar over his nomination of Lani Guinier to be the Justice Department's civil rights chief and his withdrawal of the nomination Thursday -- did not appreciably alter his basic standing, the poll found.

Of the nearly seven in 10 Americans who had heard that Mr. Clinton had dropped the nomination, 47 percent said he did the right thing and 30 percent said he did not. And 65 percent of that group said that Mr. Clinton was wrong to nominate Ms. Guinier in the first place, echoing what the president himself said, while 21 percent said they approved of the nomination.

Overall, 32 percent of Americans familiar with the episode said they had a worse opinion of Mr. Clinton because of his handling of it, 11 percent said they thought better of him, and 53 percent said it had no effect on their views.

The telephone poll was taken Tuesday through Thursday with 1,347 adults nationwide. Friday night, 565 of the respondents were interviewed again, after Ms. Guinier's nomination was withdrawn.

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