WASHINGTON – Four years after the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, nearly three quarters of Americans believe the government did a good job helping the economy recover from Sept. 11.
An AP-Ipsos poll found there was general satisfaction with the economic relief efforts from Congress (search) and the Bush administration among people in all gender, race, educational and age categories.
The poll was conducted last week, before an Associated Press story Thursday that revealed the government's $5 billion effort to help small businesses suffering because of the attacks gave loans to many companies that didn't need terrorism relief — or even knew they got it.
When told of the findings about that program, some of the original survey respondents said in interviews that the program seemed misguided to give away valuable aid so broadly.
"It's not necessarily what I would have done," said Nancy Hannaford (search), a Santa Clara, Calif., tutor and Web designer. "Nobody bailed everyone here out during the dot-com bust."
Overall, 27 percent of those surveyed said the government had done a very good job, and 45 percent said a somewhat good job, on the recovery. Twenty-seven percent said they believed had done a somewhat poor or very poor job on the economic recovery.
Young Americans, unmarried people and Democrats were less approving of the response, while older Americans, married people and Republicans (search) were more likely to approve.
The poll of 998 adults was conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 1 by Ipsos, an international polling firm, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The economic toll from the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings has been estimated to be as high as $639 billion and to have cost 2 million jobs, according to a New York Senate panel study. The federal government responded with billions of dollars in loans and grants across numerous programs and agencies.
It also launched the largest federal reorganization in a half century, merging 22 agencies to create the Department of Homeland Security, which will spend approximately $47 billion this year.
David Seratto, an Orange County animal control officer, said one of the government's better responses to the attacks was taking over security at all U.S. airports, returning confidence to flying.
"You're safer when you're flying now," he said. "It's inconvenient, but it's a necessary inconvenient."
While generally satisfied with the Sept. 11 response, several respondents said they had growing concerns about the federal response to more current challenges, such as Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Asia and the Iraq war.
"I think were spending too much" on hurricane relief, said Stephanie Smith, a San Diego homemaker. "It's hard to grasp those amounts. But at least it's being spent here."
William McCall, a retired Teamster in San Antonio, said he generally thought the federal government had done a good job of responding to economic damage from the attacks, but also worried that too much money was being spent overseas.
"Money is being wasted on that war," he said, "and I don't believe it's all being honestly spent."