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Poll: Most say stimulus has not helped middle class

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Stimulus now $862 billion
  • Poll: 25 percent of the public thinks stimulus has benefited the middle class
  • Poll: 54 percent say stimulus has helped bankers, investors
  • Congressional Budget Office: Stimulus will cost $75 billion more than expected

Washington (CNN) -- Only one-quarter of Americans think the federal stimulus plan has helped the middle class, while a majority say it has helped bankers and investors, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday morning indicates that 25 percent of the public thinks the stimulus has benefited the middle class.

One-third of the people questioned think the stimulus has helped low-income Americans, with just over four in 10 saying the plan has benefited business executives. A majority, 54 percent, think the stimulus has helped bankers and investors.

"Opinions on the economic stimulus bill are colored by the perception that it has helped fat cats, but not ordinary Americans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It's possible that the belief that the stimulus bill helped bankers and CEOs is due to the public confusing the stimulus bill with the various bailout bills that were passed at roughly the same time last year."

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The survey also indicates that one-quarter think the stimulus has helped people in their own community, with three in 10 saying it has hurt people in their community and 45 percent saying the plan has had no effect.

According to a CNN poll released Sunday, 56 percent of the public opposes the stimulus, with 42 percent supportive of the plan. Last March, just weeks after President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law, a CNN survey indicated that 54 percent supported the program, with 44 percent opposed.

The program, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, attempts to stimulate the country's economy by increasing federal spending and cutting taxes, at a total cost to the government of $862 billion.

No Republicans in the House of Representatives and only three in the Senate voted for the bill.

The stimulus was initially thought to have a price tag of $787 billion, but the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday increased its forecast for how much the stimulus will add to the nation's deficit, raising its estimate by $75 billion.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted January 8-10, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.