WASHINGTON -- There are two fundamentally entrenched sides in the debate over the best way to get the American economy growing again.
One is to spend nearly $1 trillion (including interest on the debt) through hundreds of federal, state and local government programs and hope the increased spending will create enough new jobs in the public and private sectors to breathe new life into the economy.
The other is to let people and businesses keep more of the money they earn through lower income tax rates to further strengthen incentives to work, spend, invest and enter risk-taking capital ventures that will produce new wealth and prosperity.
President Obama is promoting the former in the belief that nothing else can work, though he cannot point to a single instance where government spending lifted an economy out of a recession.
Republicans, supply-side tax cutters and free-enterprise economists support the latter approach, and can point to examples where it has worked every time it has been tried.
The American people, God bless them, believe the tax-cutting approach would be far more successful in turning the economy around than giving government bureaucrats hundreds of billions of dollars to spend on the agencies they work for and thus swell the size and cost of government and feather their own nest.
That's what the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found out in a recent poll of more than 1,300 Americans.
"In principle, more Americans say that tax cuts for individuals and businesses -- rather than spending on programs and infrastructure projects -- will do more right now to stimulate the economy and create jobs," according to Pew.
"Nearly half (48 percent) say tax cuts will do more for the economy, while 39 percent views government spending as more effective," the polling organization said. Notably, Democrats are narrowly split on the issue, with 41 percent for tax cuts and 47 percent for spending.
President Obama, take note.
As I have reported in previous columns, public support for the $800 billion stimulus-spending package has fallen. Despite the full-court press by the Obama administration, its powerful campaign apparatus and assorted special-interest groups, more Americans are now in the tax-cut camp even though the president maintains they do not work.
Here's what Obama said in last week's White House news conference: