A slight majority of Americans believe that the government is doing too much and that businesses should take on more responsibilities, according to a poll released Monday.
The federal government takes on a wide range of responsibilities that impact people every day. Policy experts have long debated what role government should play. A total of 54 percent of respondents in a new survey believe the government has been doing too much, according to Gallup.
“Americans continue to favor a smaller role for government, with 54% saying the government is attempting to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses,” the poll stated. “And 41% saying it should do more to solve the country’s problems.”
Private-sector businesses take on a whole host of responsibilities in order to provide people services and products. Supporters often argue businesses are more efficient and responsible while critics contest they are at risk of perverse profit motives. The poll results appear to partially reflect a counteraction to whoever is in office.
“[It] was somewhat larger during the last seven years of the Clinton administration and the entire Barack Obama presidency than in the George W. Bush years,” the poll stated. “This most likely reflects a counteraction to perceptions that the two Democratic presidents were oriented toward increasing the government’s role.”
The current election has only somewhat played on the same political divide. Republican nominee Donald Trump has advocated for a smaller government like party nominees that have come before him. He is somewhat different, however, in that the defining part of his economic plan is using government to preserve American jobs.
“Republican candidate Trump has not made smaller government a major part of his campaign rhetoric,” the poll stated. “Democratic candidate Clinton’s governing philosophy as president is likely to be similar in many ways to Obama’s, with an underlying faith in the idea of using and expanding the government to right wrongs.”
The poll found that the gap has become wider over the years when broken down along party lines. Republicans have increasingly moved away from government as a means to solve societal issues while Democrats have grown more likely to embrace it.
“It’s clear that Republicans’ choice of the conservative viewpoint edged up in 2008 as the financial crisis took hold and the Bush administration struggled to right the economy, while Democrats’ choice of that option began to edge down,” the poll stated. “The overall gap between the views of the two partisan groups on this measure went from the 30-percentage-point range to a high of 58 points in the latest survey.”
The poll was first conducted in 1992 and since that time there have been only a couple of years where Americans favored the government taking on a bigger role. Even when Republicans are running the country people believe the government is doing too much but at a slightly reduced margin.
“Differences in these views across other segments of the U.S. population are generally related to the political orientation of each segment,” the poll stated. “Women, minorities and young adults are more likely to be Democrats and are least likely to say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.”