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At Start of New Administration, Consumer Reports Finds 66% of Americans Don’t Trust the Government to Protect Their Interests

Donald J. Trump 45th President of the United States
Donald J. Trump 45th President of the United States

Consumers lack confidence in key areas including access to healthcare, the cost of higher education, and the protection of personal data

January 23, 2017

Yonkers, NY - On the eve of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, 66% of Americans say they do not trust the government to protect consumer interests and rights, according to the 2017 Consumer Voices Survey from Consumer Reports. Coupled with a new Congress, America could face an historic transformation.

The survey, conducted in January 2017, sought the opinion of Americans regarding the government and key consumer issues including healthcare, higher education, food safety, and privacy. The data was statistically weighted so that responses to the survey are demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. Today’s results are the first in a series of Consumer Voices Surveys Consumer Reports plans to conduct throughout 2017.

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • 64% of American consumers have at least some confidence that good healthcare is available, but 55% lack confidence that they can afford it.
  • 69% of Americans lack confidence that everyone who wants to seek higher education will be able to pay for it.
  • 65% of Americans lack confidence that their personal information is private and secure.

“At Consumer Reports, we are steadfast in our belief that consumer power can be a force that unites all Americans and leads to commonsense solutions that create a better world,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “Harnessing that power starts with listening to the voices of consumers and building a better understanding of their priorities, their aspirations, and their concerns, and this survey will be an important tool to help ensure that consumers are truly heard by the decision makers who serve them.”

Consumer Confidence Drought on Key Issues

With a dramatically reshaped administration about to make its mark in our nation’s capital, Consumer Reports sought to benchmark whether Americans are confident our government is looking out for consumer interests. Regardless of their political leanings, all consumers are wary about the future of specific consumer protections and rights.

  • The burden of higher education weighs heavily. Despite the attention paid to higher education during the election season, nearly 70% of Americans are not confident that going forward those that want to seek higher education will be able to afford it. As student loan debt becomes an enormous weight on families and students for decades, 45% of 21 to 40 year olds with student loan debt didn’t think going to college was worth the cost according to a survey by Consumer Reports in the spring of 2016.
  • Americans fear lack of access to affordable healthcare. As the Affordable Care Act is on the table for either replacement or repeal, CR’s survey shows that while close to two-thirds of Americans are at least moderately confident that good healthcare will be available to them, 55% are not confident that they and their loved ones will be able to actually afford it.
  • Personal data privacy is top-of-mind. Many (65%) Americans are either slightly or not at all confident that their personal data is private and not distributed without their knowledge. Experts expect more than 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020 offering innumerable opportunities for malicious players to access personal information.
  • A national food supply that is safe, affordable, and sustainable is important. Each year in the U.S., about 48 million people are sickened by foodborne illness and at least two million are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Food safety resonated with survey respondents; six out of 10 Americans are either slightly (30%) or not at all confident (30%) that our country’s food supply is safe, free of contamination, and produced without unnecessary antibiotics.
  • The financial services industry will act transparently. Nearly two thirds of Americans are either slightly (34%) or not confident (31%) that banks and investment companies are acting transparently and responsibly to charge reasonable fees and protect their investments.

For more information about the Consumer Voices Survey visit: www.ConsumerReports.org/consumer-voices.

Consumer Reports 2017 Consumer Voices Survey Methodology
In January 2017, the Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a nationally representative phone survey to assess the opinion of Americans regarding the government and key consumer issues. Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) of Princeton, New Jersey administered the survey to a nationally representative sample of 1,012 U.S. residents through its CARAVAN Omnibus Survey. Respondents were selected by means of random-digit dialing and were interviewed via phone. The data were statistically weighted so that respondents in the survey are demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

 

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