Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2011

THE HOUSE GOP'S WILDLY UNPOPULAR SPENDING CUTS.... On Monday, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said brutal spending cuts are exactly what voters demand. In fact, the frequently confused Republican felt comfortable designating himself as the voice of the electorate when it comes to spending: "[T]he American people are losing patience, and I'm losing patience."

Pence and his GOP colleagues either aren't paying attention to public attitudes, or they're hoping the rest of us aren't paying attention to public attitudes.

Americans are sending a message to congressional Republicans: Don't shut down the federal government or slash spending on popular programs.

Almost 8 in 10 people say Republicans and Democrats should reach a compromise on a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit to keep the government running, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. At the same time, lopsided margins oppose cuts to Medicare, education, environmental protection, medical research and community-renewal programs.

While Americans say it's important to improve the government's fiscal situation, among the few deficit-reducing moves they back are cutting foreign aid, pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year.

At a certain level, it's genuinely bizarre that we're having a budget debate and one of the major parties wants to take money out of the economy and make unemployment worse, on purpose, threatening a fragile and tenuous economic recovery. Republicans seriously believe we'll be better off with deep cuts in areas such as education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security, all of which is projected to cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and no one seems willing to simply laugh them out of the room.

But another level, it's nearly as odd that this same political party claims to have public support for its agenda, when all available evidence suggests they're completely wrong.

The Bloomberg poll finds most Americans more concerned with job creation than deficit reduction -- imagine that -- but when it comes to ideas to actually reduce the budget shortfall, the only popular ideas are cutting foreign aid, withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and raising taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year.

What's unpopular? The entire GOP agenda: 66% of Americans don't want cuts to community renewal programs, 72% don't want cuts to medical and scientific research, 77% don't want cuts to education programs, and 50% don't want cuts to public television and public radio.

And in case anyone's forgotten, Republicans cut community renewal programs, medical and scientific research, education, and public broadcasts.

Congressional Republicans are absolutely convinced the country stands behind their proposed cuts. Every House GOP lawmaker voted for these cuts last month, and every Senate Republican will vote for them today.

But the country just isn't buying it.

This should, in theory, give Democrats considerable leverage in the budget negotiations. It won't, but it should.

Steve Benen 9:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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But the country just isn't buying it.

But the corporately owned media is and the bulk of the amerikan sheeple will never learn what the repukes are doing!

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 9, 2011 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

If "the public" doesn't like Republican budget priorities, then why the hell did they vote them in office in the first place?

We're a country of morons.

Posted by: Patrick Star on March 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

And at a third level, it's odd that the OTHER political party seems to be rolling over instead of fighting back.

Or maybe it's not so odd, given that they're both really just branches of the Money Party.

Posted by: bleh on March 9, 2011 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

But another level, it's nearly as odd that this same political party claims to have public support for its agenda, when all available evidence suggests they're completely wrong.


That's not odd. That's GOP Standard Operating Procedure from page 2 of their book "How to Kick Democrats' Ass in Politics".

"The American people have made clear this, the American people are tired of that, bla, bla, bla-diddy, bla, bla."

The only thing that's odd here is that the things Americans poll in favor of doing like taxing the wealthy is off the table apparently for both sides.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on March 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans, these are polls you should be looking at and reading.

These are not poles that the strippers dance around when you're out for entertainment after political meetings.
Male or female strippers.
Not that there's anything wrong with either!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

This should, in theory, give Democrats considerable leverage in the budget negotiations. It won't, but it should.

Correction: It will, but they won't use it.

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

"This should, in theory, give Democrats considerable leverage in the budget negotiations. It won't, but it should."

This should, in theory, give Democrats enough leverage to win the next four elections. It should, but they'd need to grow a spine up front.

Posted by: Vokoban on March 9, 2011 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

If someone wanted to accuse the Democratic Party of practicing politics, they'd have scant evidence to cite. I still can't get over the fact that Dems managed (almost in spite of themselves) to pass healthcare, then immediately proceeded to apologize for it.

Posted by: George Colombo on March 9, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans seriously believe we'll be better off with deep cuts in areas such as education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security, all of which is projected to cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs

Actually, they could give a sh@t about us. All they care about is driving the economy into the ditch, blaming Obama, and running the table in 2012.

Posted by: Doctor Whom on March 9, 2011 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

If the country isn't buying the Republican agenda, then why is it that Republicans are ahead in generic Congressional preference polls (by about 4 percentage points)?

The problem is that the Democrats are absolutely horrible at sticking to a clear message explaining their positions and why they are good for the country. Obama is of no help, because he is committed to post-partisanship; he'll listen to good ideas whereever they come from, blah blah blah.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 9, 2011 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Right on cue, here comes the doom and gloom from the "Democrats can't do anything right" crowd. First off, there's that word, "sheeple" again. Yeah, that will persuade the electorate to your point of view. Insult 'em!

Then there's the trope that Democrats are unwilling to tax the wealthy. IIRC the President proposed allowing the Bush tax cuts to sunset for the top 2% of earners, but the GOP held a badly needed extension of UI benefits hostage. I guess the President should have just allowed all of those unemployed to twist in the wind.

My understanding is that the primary reason that the GOP did so well in the mid-term election is that Democrats did not show up at the polls. Whose fault is that? I've got my complaints about the party, but running down the Democrats when they're the only viable option to GOP dominance is spectacularly unhelpful.

/rant

Posted by: AK Liberal on March 9, 2011 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with AK Liberal. Democrat voters did this to themselves by staying home last year. It not only gave those idiot Repubs the House, but also convinced them that they had a mandate to kill the middle class. Corporate-owned politicians are the problem and they need to be defeated, no matter to which party they belong.

Posted by: Nikki on March 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the Republican spending cuts are unpopular. Yes, there are some measures such as allowing the top-end Bush tax cuts to expire that are popular.

The problem is that these measures aren't enough to resolve the mid-term and long-term fiscal problems. And the measures that will be enough will not be popular no matter which party controls the government. If we just rely on public opinion, then the choices that need to be made (whether they be tax hikes or program cuts or both) will never be made and we will have a disaster.

It's not realistic to expect our elected officials to make the "tough choices" that we're unwilling to make ourselves. But that seems to be the political situation these days, even though it's untenable for the long term.

Posted by: dsimon on March 9, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Pence and his GOP colleagues either aren't paying attention to public attitudes

they're watching fox news where everything is wrong.

Posted by: pluege on March 9, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

If "the public" doesn't like Republican budget priorities, then why the hell did they vote them in office in the first place?

We're a country of morons.
Posted by: Patrick Star on March 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

large percentage of Americans are morons - yes (fox news watchers)

morons showed up for the last election.

the not-morons stayed home - shame on them.

We all suffer as a result of the actions of the morons and the not-morons (who fail to realize that in the crappy US political system, staying home is the same as voting with the morons!)

Posted by: pluege on March 9, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

You know what might get more Democrats out to the polls? Democrats acting noticeably different from Republicans.

Right now, in the midst of huge unemployment, Republicans want to make huge budget cuts. Democrats want to make slightly less huge budget cuts, but will cave as soon as possible.

You know the old saying: Given the choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, people will vote for the real one.

Posted by: Tom Allen on March 9, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

All the tea tard screeching has made them deaf to those who don't shout.

Basically the squeaky wheel gets the grease, or in politics gets the attention. Add that to a natural predisposition to tea tard sensibilities and Republican lawmakers can't believe anything else. Even if in 2 years they get unelected they will have internalized this to such a degree that they still won't believe something contrary.

Posted by: ET on March 9, 2011 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

As a Scotsman-America, I always heard my pappy say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

We Middle Class Americans were fooled in 2004 and re-elected Bush the Younger. 2006 and 2008 were years we refused to be fooled a second time. Now the same fiscal charlatans are trying to fool us into believing we're broke!

Stay wise Middle and Working Class Americans and it will be shame on them again! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 9, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid Dr. Whom, above, is quite right: The Republicans have no interest in improving the economy. Indeed, they want to make it worse in order to blame the President (and Democrats generally) in hopes of retaking the Senate and White House in 2012.

The triviality of the media, which seems unable to rise above its diversionary obsession with celebrity scandals du jour, only serves to promote the G.O.P.'s objective. The Republicans do this stuff very, very well and it's high time they were called on it. Since the Democrats seem willfully impotent on this score, our best hope may be that the Repugs overplay their hand.

Posted by: Etruscan on March 9, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans seriously believe we'll be better off with deep cuts in areas such as education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security

Sorry to disabuse you, but the R's do not believe any such thing.

In reality, They are just a bunch of mean spirited pricks & heathers who grew up tearing wings off insects, torturing cats and enjoying other similarly despicable behaviors. .

Posted by: cwolf on March 9, 2011 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Bloomberg didn't give the real answer to the deficit as one of their choices - pursue economic growth. Shouldn't a media enterprise focusing on business have some clue about options for turning losses into profits?

Posted by: Th on March 9, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I would just like to point out that Mike Pence is dumber than Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman combined which makes him dumber than TWO boxes of rocks; and that he is the legitimate voice of the people who were stupid enough to elect him.

Posted by: Mr. Long Form on March 9, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK
Republicans seriously believe we'll be better off with deep cuts in areas such as education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security, all of which is projected to cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and no one seems willing to simply laugh them out of the room.

I think this is wrong. I don't think they think Republicans in office think we'll be better off. I believe they thing they and their close cohorts will be better off, if not absolutely at least relative to everyone else.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Pence is just another Wiemar Republican trying to set us all up for the big takeover.

Posted by: WallyCurtis on March 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

"[T]he American people are losing patience, and I'm losing patience."

He meant to say American corporations are losing patience.

Posted by: Schtick on March 9, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"This should, in theory, give Democrats considerable leverage in the budget negotiations. It won't, but it should."

It will only give them an advantage if groups like Move On and labor start putting it out in press releases, letter writing and petitions.

The MSM will only play got 'cha ambushes on invidual Democratic members. The only way to force a real alternative is for groups outside the MSM to start a movement from the bottom up and force the MSM.

Give the Teabaggers and their corporatist johns credit. They forced the MSM to notice them with only a tiny number of fringe fanatics and hired goons scaring people. Real people with vast majorities will have to yell louder but they can generate much more volume. As the Wisconsin recalls may start to prove.

Take the top items from the Bloomberg and other polls that have shown and call it what it is "THE PEOPLE'S BUDGET AGENDA":

*Revoke the Bush Tax Welfare for >$250K
*Surtax anyone earning over $1 million
*Cut military programs not requested by the Military.
*End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies [ethanol would be included]
*End Afghanistan and Iraq wars
*End earmarks
*Reduce Foreign Aid

Demand the following cuts be taken off the table:
Social Security
Medicare
Medicaid
Education
Environmental programs
Community Development Programs


See
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2011/03/four_pinocchios_for_the_americ.html
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb11/Budget_Feb11_rpt.pdf

Posted by: OKDem on March 9, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it fair to say that it gives them leverage, but they won't take advantage of it?

Posted by: CDW on March 9, 2011 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

OKDem: Medicare can't be taken off the table if we're serious about the mid and long-term debt issue. It's the largest cost driver in the budget. I don't think any serious analyst believes we can get our fiscal house in order without looking at this area. But it needn't come at lower standards of care: our peer nations have shown that it's possible to cover everyone and get similar health outcomes as we do while spending far less. I'm all for maintaining or expanding care, but that's not an excuse for not looking at our horrendously inefficient system.

Foreign aid is chump change in the budget and can be effective in promoting (or preventing) change elsewhere that might be far more costly in the long run.

As I wrote above, the choices that are necessary are not the ones that are going to be popular. The immediate issue is that the Republican choices are both unwise and unpopular (and won't do much to fix the budget). But the wise ones probably won't be popular either (tax rates on everyone, not just the wealthy, will probably have to go up eventually).

Posted by: dsimon on March 9, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

While the repubs are trying to take us back to the last century, the Chinese and Germany have grabbed Obama's vision of alternate energy & high speed trains etc, China has become #1 in manufacture of solar panels, all we hear is drill baby drill, even if & when gas goes down again, America goes to sleep again. Obama is keeping it up, trying to preach to Americans but some are mired in the past.

Posted by: j on March 9, 2011 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

You know what might get more Democrats out to the polls? Democrats acting noticeably different from Republicans.

Perhaps you missed the 111th Congress.

Posted by: AK Liberal on March 9, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I find when parsing Republican quotes it's useful to substitute "Millionaires" or "My largest donors" for "Americans."

Posted by: beejeez on March 9, 2011 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Congressional Republicans are absolutely convinced the country stands behind their proposed cuts." Steve Benen.

In 1936 "Liberty" magazine, an anti-FDR publication, undertook a telephone poll to predict the winner of the (then) approaching Presidential elections. The results gave Alf Landon the White House and a comfortable majority in the House and Senate. FDR won by the biggest majority yet seen, the Republicans weren't even a quarter of the Senate and barely that in the House.
Why the difference? "Liberty" relied on telephone polling at a time when the telephone had become a luxury again. They were, in other words, polling the well-to-do, most of whom were anti-FDR. The pollsters made no effort to check their work against any other polling and managed to set scientific polling back by a decade or more.
In 2011, replace "Liberty" magazine with Republican/Teabaggers politicians and telephone-owning anti-FDR voters with Republican/Teabagger voters (possibly the same bunch?). The results are going to be just as skewed. Just as "Liberty" refused to cross-check its results, so the Republican/Teabagger politicians refuse to consider that their supporters aren't the majority of the country. After all, they WON, didn't they? That takes a MAJORITY, doesn't it? Post hoc ergo propter hoc is apparently beyond them.
Gonna be a nasty surprise for them when November 1936 repeats itself in 2012...

Posted by: Doug on March 9, 2011 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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