American Culture & Faith Institute

Befitting their conservative outlook on the current political reality, the nation’s SAGE Cons – the 30 million spiritually active, governance engaged Christian conservatives – undeniably resent the federal government’s over-regulation of the nation’s businesses. They also lament the fact that most of the jobs being created in the nation are government positions and their opinions about future employment and regulation policies are also unambiguous. These discoveries come from a new survey conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute.

Too Much Regulation of Business

More than nine out of ten SAGE Cons (94%) contend that the federal government “has gone too far” in its regulation of the nation’s 28 million small businesses. Just 1% felt that the federal government has “not gone far enough” in regulating small businesses. More than 99% of the businesses that employ workers in the U.S. are small businesses, accounting for half of all jobs in the private sector. SAGE Cons believe that less government regulation of small businesses would facilitate more prolific job creation.

While SAGE Cons are not as protective of large companies as they are of small businesses, three-quarters (75%) believe that the federal government has also gone overboard in its regulation of large firms. The remaining one-quarter were divided between saying that the feds have not gone far enough (11%) and saying the existing amount of regulation is just about right (14%).

New Jobs Are Believed to be Government Jobs

Most Americans are worried about the economy and fear that there are not enough jobs available for people who want to work. When asked about the jobs that are being created, a large majority of SAGE Cons indicated that most of the new employment opportunities are government jobs.

Overall, 81% said more new jobs are being created by the federal government, while 57% said state governments are creating new jobs, and 40% identified local governments as creating new jobs.

In contrast, only 21% said that non-profit organizations are creating new jobs while more than twice as many – 49% – estimated that non-profits are losing jobs.

The outlook was least sanguine regarding the employment prospects at small businesses and large companies. Overall, just 15% believed that small companies are creating more jobs and only 13% said that large companies are currently opening up new positions. In fact, three-quarters of the survey respondents stated that the private sector is losing jobs. Respondents were more likely to cite a loss of jobs in small businesses (77% believe those firms are suffering from decreased employment) than in large companies (71% estimate there are net losses in jobs in those companies).

Policies Conservatives Support

When asked about seven government policy options, SAGE Cons expressed net support for four of those seven possibilities.

The greatest level of support was demonstrated for “enforcing labor, environmental and intellectual property standards for all Chinese exporters.” Overall, nearly three-fourths of SAGE Cons supported this concept (72%) while only 4% opposed it.

A related opportunity was to “require an end to Chinese subsidies on Chinese exports to the US.” This idea was supported by seven out of ten Christian conservatives (69%) and opposed by only one out of every twenty (5%).

Muted support was provided for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, which regulates the financial industry. Half of the SAGE Cons (49%) supported such a repeal, with only one in ten (11%) opposing it. Most importantly, though, was the fact that one-quarter (26%) said they did not know enough about Dodd-Frank to have an opinion, and another 6% said they neither supported nor opposed its repeal.

Similarly, half of the Christian conservative base (50%) said they would support “requiring equal pay for female employees.” Nearly half as many (22%) opposed such a requirement. An even larger proportion (27%) said they neither support nor oppose such a requirement, suggesting that no further policies need to be implemented on this matter.

Policy Opposition

Three policy options stirred up overwhelming opposition by SAGE Cons.

Not surprisingly, given their expressed feelings about the amount of regulation of American businesses, nine out of ten Christian conservatives (89%) opposed increasing federal regulation of businesses. Only 4% supported such an increase.

By a seven-to-one margin, SAGE Cons rejected the idea of increasing the national minimum wage. More than three-quarters (77%) resisted this notion while just 11% expressed support for the idea.

By greater than a nine-to-one margin (75% – 8%) SAGE Cons opposed the federal government supporting labor unions and collective bargaining.

A Different Vision

“SAGE Cons have a simple and consistent view of America,” explained George Barna, who is the Executive Director of the organization that conducted the survey. “They see government action as a last resort, not automatically a desirable solution to national problems and opportunities. They have great faith in the free market to solve economic problems and contend that most of the economic problems we face were created by government intrusion and therefore not likely to be solved by further government tinkering.”

The survey results paint a portrait of a federal government that is too active. “The policy options that SAGE Cons support are those that turn the market loose to do what it does best, with minimal government involvement. The only regulations they seem interested in are those that level the playing field in global trade, particularly with regard to the Chinese. Apart from that, SAGE Cons want less government, including putting an end to the expansion of the number of government-funded jobs that are coming online. They look forward to a day when less federal regulation and taxation will unleash the private sector to grow the economy and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans who want a productive job more than a government handout.”

About the Research

The survey was conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute among 2,000 individuals whose faith views and political activity qualified them as SAGE Cons. The survey was conducted online from May 11-20, 2016.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians related to the political process. The organization does not support or promote individual candidates or political parties.

SAGE Cons are qualified in the research as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 12% of the national adult population.

Additional information about this and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com.

See accompanying data table:

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