By 63 to 24 percent, Americans support President Carter's anti-inflation program. However, only 8 percent think it will be "highly effective," 54 percent believe it will be "only somewhat effective" and 30 percent think it will be hardly effective at all."
What Carter is buying with his program is time. When people are asked how long they think it will be before they can tell if the program is really working, 55 percent think it will take a year or more. The president repeatedly has stressed that there can be no quick solution to the inflation problem, and the public seems to agree.
Another significant development related to Carter's voluntary controls approach is that public pressure for mandatory price and wage controls has abated considerably. The public is still in favor of mandatory controls, by 49 to 43 percent.
Before Carter announced his program, support for a federal system of wage and price controls had risen to a 58 to 35 percent majority, up from 52 to 42 percent majority, up from 52 to 42 percent in July and a turnaround from 46 to 38 percent opposition in 1976.
Here is the public reaction to the major specifics of the president's antiinflation program, according to a recent ABC News Harris Survey:
By 80 to 12 percent, people favor the cuts in the federal budget promised by Carter.
By 70 to 22 percent, most also support the cuts in federal hiring that are part of the program. Carter announced that of every two federal employes who leave government service, only one will be replaced.
By 59 to 28 percent, a majority backs the "voluntary controls on price increases at a percentage point below the average increase of the past two years."
By 57 to 32 percent, a majority supports "voluntary controls on wage increases at 7 percent."
A 63 to 25 percent majority is in favor of "giving employes a tax credit for the difference between a 7 percent wage rise and any rise in the cost-of-living over 7 percent." This is the president's effort to try to compensate workers who might lose purchasing power if the rate of inflation exceeds the rate of their wage hikes.
A 64 to 25 percent majority also favors "the federal government not giving government business to compaines who break the guidelines."
Another anti-inflation proposal, which Carter did not include in his message but that has considerable support in Congress, would be to "change the tax laws so that companies that limit their price increases to an average 5 3/4 percent and wage increases to 7 percent would pay lower corporate taxes, while companies going above these limits would pay higher federal corporate taxes." Such a change is favored by 62 to 25 percent.
Basically, these results indicate that Americans, although somewhat skeptical about the effectiveness of his program, are willing to give Carter the benefit of the doubt in his efforts, to curb inflation voluntarily.
Perhaps the most significant result is that people are willing to wait for a year to see how the new guidelines work.