Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 23, 2011

AMERICANS' APPETITE FOR DEEP CUTS: STILL NONEXISTENT.... I can't remember the last time there was a greater disconnect between public demands and policymakers' priorities. It's almost comical in its ridiculousness.

To hear congressional Republicans tell it, Americans are desperate to see sweeping cuts to public spending and an unwavering commitment to deficit reduction. Indeed, this assumption has served as the basis for two months of heated debate in Washington, with GOP leaders boasting about how they, and only they, are delivering on what the public wants.

And yet, the evidence to the contrary remains overwhelming.

More than nine in 10 Americans call the federal budget deficit a serious problem, the poll shows -- as many as seven in 10 call it very serious. However, just 7 percent named the deficit as the most important problem facing the country today. Most Americans, 51 percent, called the economy and jobs the most important problem, and most Americans agree Washington is not doing enough to create jobs.

Asked specifically which is more important, cutting spending or creating jobs, 63% said job creation should be the top goal, with 26% saying spending cuts should be the priority. As absurd as this seems, congressional Republicans are desperate to side with the 26% minority over the 63% majority, even after promising for two years to focus on jobs.

Indeed, 68% of Americans don't agree on much, but they agree that lawmakers aren't spending enough time focused on bringing down unemployment.

And yet, one-sided results like these still won't change the debate. Policymakers and the very-serious media voices will continue a foolish debate -- whether to cut a little or cut a lot -- while the public clamors for a jobs policy that isn't even on the table.

Let me say this plainly: most folks just don't care about cutting spending or the deficit. They care about growing the economy and creating jobs. It's not just one poll; every poll says the same thing.

Why did the electorate vote in a bunch of Republicans with the opposite priorities? Because folks were frustrated with the status quo, and didn't realize the GOP that kept asking "where are the jobs?" would immediately start working on plans to make the jobs crisis worse.

But because our political system is so often exasperating, White House and congressional leaders will nevertheless sit down fairly soon, and to avoid a government shutdown, begin talks on just how many unpopular cuts it will take to make Republicans happy enough to end their hostage strategy. Dems should have leverage in these talks -- what the GOP wants is the opposite of what the American mainstream wants -- but that will almost certainly make no difference whatsoever.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

In a sane world those cuts cut easily be made, the oil subsidies, the big farm subsidies, the pentagon, and the big tax cuts for the wealthy should be canceled, but we are not in a sane world, the repubs want the cuts to come to schools, the poor, the sick, and PBS - who of course have nothing left to give.
What was the country thinking to give the repubs the majority in congress?

Posted by: j on March 23, 2011 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans, out of power, screamed loud and long enough about creating jobs, that people actually believed that they cared and could.

Republicans don't give two 'hershey squirts' about jobs.

They know how to cut taxes for the wealthy (and have no problem raisning taxes on the rest of us), and cut benefits to seniors, veterans, married women, unmarried women, pregnant women, the handicapped, the sick, etc.

So, they used jobs to get in power, and do what they do best when they got in power.

Has this lesson FINALLY been learned?

I doubt it, because we should have learned SOMETHING over the last 30 years if it had even started to be learned.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 23, 2011 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans are desperate to side with the 26% minority

When have they done otherwise? And as long as it works for them, why not?

Posted by: martin on March 23, 2011 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

People making over $250,000 a year want budget cuts. They are the only Americans with real voting rights in our society. The rest of us just go through the motions of voting like residents of China. Our beauty contest votes don't effect policy.
We no longer live in a functioning constitutional democracy. Sadder still, this suits a majority, as exercising the duties of citizenship as a free person is hard work.

Posted by: JMG on March 23, 2011 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

JMG has it just about right . We are all the new serf class. Beauty contest indeed.

Posted by: John R on March 23, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Robert Reich squares this circle:

"Cutting the deficit will create fewer jobs. Less government spending reduces overall demand.

But truth doesn’t seem to matter. Republicans figure if their big lies are repeated often enough, people will start to believe them."

Posted by: Peter Belenky on March 23, 2011 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Why did the electorate vote in a bunch of Republicans with the opposite priorities?"

Because the DC Democrats have completely conceded the argument. It's the old question: "Are you going to vote for a fake Republican or a real one?"

Posted by: Tom Allen on March 23, 2011 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's not about what the PUBLIC wants. Polls show that the MAJORITY favors a tax increase on the wealthy and ,if necessary, a tax increase on everyone to start taking care of the deficit/debt problem. As was pointed out in one of yesterday's threads the republicans spend their time making pledges to Grover Norquist instead of to the American people. Just look at what the individual states are doing. As they go their merry way slashing budgets, busting unions, defunding education and healthcare programs, they're also busy passing corporate tax cuts. There's always money for their pet projects. Here in Texas our congressmen have decided we have the money to launch a court battle against the EPA when it says that refineries and powerhouses have to quit dumping their garbage into our air. As long as that "liberal media" keeps giving air time to this bunch every time they say they've got a mandate to slash and burn, things will not get better. We're governened by billionaires, big oil, big coal, big ag, big corporations and an bunch of congressmen with very small testicles.

Posted by: sparky on March 23, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

All Orwell, all the time.

Posted by: jTh on March 23, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

'Dems should have leverage in these talks -- what the GOP wants is the opposite of what the American mainstream wants -- but that will almost certainly make no difference whatsoever'.

This is only because the Democrats negotiating skills would leave them defeated trying to determine a bedtime for a five year old.

Posted by: SW on March 23, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

As absurd as this seems, congressional Republicans are desperate to side with the 26%

Actually the Republicans have done a good job of convincing people that creating jobs has nothing to do with deficits. Remember, government doesn't produce jobs. People with tax cuts do.

Posted by: Danp on March 23, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Why did the electorate vote in a bunch of Republicans with the opposite priorities?"

The Democrats did not attempt or run on a serious program for job creation. Obama really failed badly here. It was so simple. Frame things as Roosevelt vs. Hoover. Say we should do what Clinton did: run deficits when the economy is down and surpluses when it is up.

Posted by: david1234 on March 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

The polls may show that the public disagrees with *specific* proposed cuts, but if you ask, in vague generality, whether people support cutting spending to balance the budget, they will say yes. The devil is in the details, as always, but the point is that the Republicans campaign on generalities, not specifics.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 23, 2011 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Has it ever occured to you that the Republican party's ideology and close ties to the existing power elite do not allow it to do anything about jobs.

Most jobs are created by emerging companies pushing to fill new market niches. We need to encourage the expansion of small business. That means creaing market niches in need of being filled. Right now their are few if any niches needing to be filled.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 23, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

End.Corporate.Welfare.Now!

There, our budget woes are fixed for generations to come! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 23, 2011 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

"truth no longer matters at all. Republicans know that because their big lies have now been repeated often enough, by a sufficiently diverse set of sources -- including, for at least some of the lies, our current President, and for a larger number of their lies, a large number of Dem's in Congress, not to mention almost all of the voices of authority that they hear on their teevees -- a sufficiently large number of people now believe them that they have gotten away with it, and will probably continue to do so for a while, no matter what actually happens as a result of those of their policies as Obama and the Dem's will concede."
Posted by: Peter Belenky on March 23, 2011 at 9:16 AM

FTFY.

Posted by: smartalek on March 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's probably time for an old political cliche that used a few years back (with a modern twist):

Are YOU better off today than you were 2 years ago?

Posted by: Ray Waldren on March 23, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Unemployment problem? What problem???
This is an Golden Opportunity to push for a
4 day work week (32 hours) and Longer Vacations.

Problem Solved.

Posted by: cwolf on March 23, 2011 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hear!Hear!, Tom Allen.

Posted by: CDW on March 23, 2011 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

with 26% saying spending cuts should be the priority.

One wonders how large this number would be if the Republicans hadn't been running around for the last few months claiming that the deficit was the Biggest Problem Ever. Probably in the teens, if not the single digits.

John R wrote:
We are all the new serf class.

We are entering the era of corporate feudalism.

Posted by: josef on March 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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