Thursday, November 18, 2010

[Video] Americans Strongly Behind Spending Cuts and Budget Constraint... as Long as it Does Not Affect Them

I have to vouch that I was wrong on this one - unlike quite a few readers who claimed the U.S. citizen is not ready for spending cuts because they "still want theirs", I thought the tide had turned and people would be willing to make a shared sacrifice so that our fiscal house can be put in order for the next generations.  So much for my last shards of idealism.

Here are the results of a CNBC/NBC poll - in essence the story remains the same:  in a generic question of do you want to cut spending and fix the budget deficit the answer is "yes".  But when you list potential cuts of any line item that realistically could make a dent in the deficit, the electorate instead votes "no".   Once more... we want our cake and don't you dare let us not eat it... although conceptually we know we should go on diet.  Just don't let that diet affect my specific cake.
  • In the survey, two-thirds of the public said support for spending cuts was a major reason they decided to back the Congressional candidates they chose in this year's elections. Yet a 40 percent plurality called the proposal recently offered by the co-chairs of a presidential deficit reduction panel a “bad idea.”
  • Moreover, opposition was substantially higher to specific steps the co-chairs recommended. Seven in 10 Americans called themselves “somewhat uncomfortable” or “not comfortable at all” with the idea of reducing the deficit by cutting spending on Social Security, Medicare and defense programs.  (of course these are the only programs that will put a dent in fighting the deficit)
  • Six in 10 said the same about the idea of increasing gasoline taxes, limiting home mortgage interest deductions, or raising corporate taxes
  • Nearly six in 10 expressed discomfort with raising the Social Security retirement age to 69—even if the change were phased in over 60 years.

Conclusion: Don't raise any taxes that affect me specifically.  Don't cut any of my benefits.  But fix the damn deficit because it's out of control!


Some ironic results of the poll in this video via CNBC - first it appears seniors over the age of 65 are most willing to move up the age of full social security to 69 over the coming decades ("won't affect us"), and apparently the most conservative of the electorate is the least willing to accept any cuts to entitlements (oh dear irony).
  • Opposition to such steps was strongest among core Republican partisans, those without college educations, and African-Americans, among other groups.

Of course Joe Kernan goes into his normal rant about how this poll is inaccurate and does not reflect the "conservative" base. ;)  I'd say to Joe - it appears self preservation and entitlement crosses all party lines... an anathema to his idyllic world view I am sure.

One non related item in the survey, is America's views on business - it still seems business leaders are not very popular - no surprise considering the increasingly dour views towards free trade and the effect on the American workplace. [Oct 4, 2010: WSJ - Americans Souring on Free Trade as Losing their Jobs Overpowers Lower Prices]   In my opinion you have to really start splitting these type of questions between "big business i.e. the corporatoracy" versus "small business"... I think the poll would give very different answers with that delineation of "the business community".

  • Despite complaints from many corporate executives, however, most Americans are not urging Obama to become friendlier to the business community. Some 59 percent called Obama’s policies toward business either “about right” or “too pro-business,” compared to 36 percent who called the president “too anti-business.”

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