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Economy and COVID-19 Top the Public’s Policy Agenda for 2021

“As the United States faces twin crises of high unemployment and a global pandemic, large majorities of Americans want Joe Biden and Congress to prioritize strengthening the economy and addressing the coronavirus outbreak in the coming year. Yet there are wide partisan gaps over most of the 19 items asked about in a new Pew Research Center survey – particularly addressing racial issues and dealing with global climate change, but also dealing with COVID-19 and reducing the budget deficit. The survey, conducted Jan. 8-12 among 5,360 U.S. adults who are members of the nationally representative American Trends Panel, finds that economic concerns once again top the public’s agenda after declining in relative importance in recent years. Currently, about eight-in-ten Americans say strengthening the nation’s economy (80%) and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak (78%) should be top priorities for the president and Congress to address this year. Two-thirds (67%) rate improving the job situation as a top priority. Majorities also prioritize a number of other policy goals, including defending the country from future terrorist attacks (63%), improving the way the political system works (62%) and reducing health care costs (58%).  About half of the public says the president and Congress should make it a top priority this year to take steps to make Social Security financially sound (54%), improve education (53%), deal with the problems poor people face in their lives (53%), address issues around race in this country (49%) and reduce crime (47%).  Among the priorities that rank lower on the 19-item priorities list are dealing with global trade (32%), improving the country’s roads, bridges and public transportation systems (32%) and dealing with drug addiction (28%). Notably, majorities rate all of these policy goals either as a “top priority” for the president and Congress or as “an important but lower priority”; for each, relatively small shares say they are “not too important” or “should not be done.”…”

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