Americans wary about spending, tax cuts, war

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Americans believe by a 2-to-1 margin that it's prudent to hold off on more tax cuts, a centerpiece of President Bush's domestic policy agenda, an Associated Press poll found.

They greet the new year more cautious about their personal spending yet somewhat optimistic their financial situation will improve.

On the international front, the poll found people wary of a war with Iraq and much more likely to view Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network as threats than Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Those anxieties were voiced by Joanne Arriola, a 62-year-old retiree from a utility company in Butte, Mont. She's seen her retirement fund reduced sharply by the troubled economy, worries about the effects of a war in Iraq and is convinced that war will return to America.

"It's a scary new year," she said. "My children are too old to go, but a lot of young people aren't. When the war starts, it will start here, too. I think that once we're in the war, we're going to see something on our soil."

Two-thirds said they were worried that war with Iraq would increase chances of a terror attack in the United States, according to the poll conducted by ICR/International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

On economics, even most Republicans said it would be better to hold off on tax cuts to avoid deeper deficits. The White House is putting together tax cuts that could total $300 billion.

Almost half, 44 percent, said they expect their family's financial situation will be better a year from now. That's a more optimistic view of the future than a year ago.

Republicans were more optimistic than Democrats and young adults significantly more optimistic than older people.

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