July 23, 2020 / 11:57 PM / 13 days ago

Americans broadly back more federal coronavirus relief: Reuters/IPSOS poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A strong majority of Americans from across the political spectrum back more federal government relief to businesses and households hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Reuters/IPSOS poll.

An employee takes the temperature of a building tenant outside the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan, as the iconic tower prepares to open to more tenants and visitors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., June 24, 2020. Picture taken June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The poll, conducted between July 15-21, comes as Congress is working toward another round of relief to support an economy thrown into its deepest recession in nearly a century by the global outbreak. Earlier rounds have provided roughly $3 trillion in government assistance.

As of early July more than 30 million Americans were receiving some form of unemployment assistance, and a $600 a week enhancement to state-provided benefits expires after this week’s payments unless Congress extends it. Optimism has faded that the economy might be recovering quickly from the abrupt halt to activity this spring. The outbreak has worsened across most of the country in recent weeks, and total confirmed U.S. infections now exceed 4 million.

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More than three-quarters of poll respondents said they favored more assistance under four programs including: additional direct payments to families; extra loans to small businesses; continued federal enhancements to unemployment checks; and an extension of an eviction moratorium.

In each case, Democrats were more supportive - and especially more “strongly supportive” - of the extension of more relief than Republicans. Still, clear majorities of Republicans favored more assistance.

The gulf between Democrats and Republicans was largest on the question of additional unemployment benefits. On that question, 85% of Democrats favored extending the assistance versus $69% of Republicans. Democrats were nearly twice as likely to “strongly support” it - 58% - than were Republicans - 30%.

Members of the two parties were in greatest agreement - and the most supportive overall - over whether more loans for small businesses were warranted. The so-called Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans to businesses as an incentive to retain staff, has disbursed more than $518 billion to nearly 5 million U.S, small businesses since it launched this spring.

There, some 87% of Democrats favored it compared with 84% of Republicans. Independents were coolest to more aid under the PPP, with just 72% favoring additional loans.

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Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by David Gregorio

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