April 1, 2021
Americans are feeling more optimistic about the economy, and a majority of adults favor the Biden administration’s landmark $1.9 trillion coronavirus and economic relief package known as the American Rescue Plan Act. Only 25% oppose the law, which provides funding and economic aid to individuals, businesses, schools, and state and local governments.
Overall, views on the economy are more positive than they were a month ago. Forty-six percent of Americans describe the nation’s economy as positive compared to 37% who felt the same way in February. The positive outlook on the economy is mostly driven by Democrats. A majority of Democrats now think the economy is in good shape compared to those who said the same last month (58% vs. 41%).
Support for the economic relief package is deeply divided across partisan lines with 80% of Democrats and only 26% of Republicans who strongly or somewhat approve the bill.
Eighty percent have heard at least something about the relief law and an overwhelming majority of Americans support the various provisions included in it. Funding for low-interest loans for small businesses, funding for COVID vaccines and testing, and resources for schools to reopen safely are among the most popular items.
In assessing the level of spending authorized by the law, 42% of Americans view it as about right, while 26% say the law spends too little and 31% say the relief package spends too much. Republicans are four times more likely than Democrats to view the spending as excessive. Those with at least some college education are also more likely to think the approved aid is too high compared to those with a high-school diploma or less.
Nearly half of Americans think the law does about the right amount to financially support middle income households or themselves personally. Fewer think the law goes far enough to support the finances of small businesses or low income households.
Again, partisan differences arise with Democrats being more likely than Republicans to think the law does enough to help small businesses (47% vs. 38%), middle income households (55% vs. 41%), and themselves (56% vs. 40%).Republicans are more likely to find the law’s spending on all of these groups to be excessive.
Half of Americans say they have already received their government check, and another 25% expect to receive it soon. Only 16% do not expect to receive any direct payment from the government, and 9% are not sure if they will get the payment or not. Among those who have already or expect to receive the payment, a third plan to use most of it to pay their bills, and about 1 in 5 will either use it to pay debt or save it. Fewer plan to spend it or donate it.
The way Americans plan to spend their direct payment varies substantially by household income. Those with a household income of $50,000 or less are more likely to say they will use their checks to pay bills than those with an income of $100,000 or more (41% vs. 24%).
The nationwide poll was conducted March 25-29, 2021 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,166 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.6 percentage points.
- Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (March, 2021). “Widespread Support for Biden’s Coronavirus and Economic Relief Law.” https://apnorc.org/projects/widespread-support-for-bidens-coronavirus-and-economic-relief-law/