Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2011

BY WIDE MARGINS, AMERICANS OPPOSE REPUBLICAN AGENDA.... To hear congressional Republicans tell it, they have their finger on the pulse of public opinion. The "American people" stand behind the far-right GOP agenda, not those rascally Democrats. After seeing the Greek debt crisis on TV, Americans even support slashing entitlements.

It's hard to overstate how hopelessly misguided this is. The American mainstream and congressional Republicans have wildly different priorities and beliefs. If the GOP is working under the assumption that voters love its agenda, the party is making a tragic mistake.

A McClatchy-Marist poll released yesterday found a whopping 80% of the country opposes cutting Medicare or Medicaid as part of a deficit-reduction plan. Even among self-described conservatives, 69% want Congress to leave Medicare and Medicaid alone. What's more, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Americans also support raising taxes on the wealthy. What Americans want, in other words, is the opposite of what Republicans are offering.

New data from the Washington Post-ABC News poll bolsters the point.

Despite growing concerns about the country's long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases combined with modest reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Only President Obama's call to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoys solid support.

Opposition to cutting Medicaid is very strong, with 69% against the idea. Opposition to cutting Medicare is even more overwhelming, with 78% opposed. The only popular idea for deficit reduction is "raising taxes on Americans with incomes over 250-thousand dollars a year," which is endorsed by 72% of the country. Even most rank-and-file Republicans agree with the idea.

The same poll, without identifying names or parties, described Paul Ryan's House budget plan, as it relates to Medicare. A 65% majority opposes the agenda, and wants Medicare to stay intact.

What's more a 59% majority wants policymakers to take a balanced approach -- some tax increases, some spending cuts -- to deficit reduction, which is the opposite of what Republicans think.

In 2009, after a massive misinformation campaign undermined public support for health care reform, congressional Republicans decided that opinion polls are the single most important factor policymakers should consider, especially when dealing with controversial changes to the status quo. For politicians to simply ignore overwhelming poll results was offensive and arrogant, undermining core American ideals like "consent of the governed."

Here's a question for those same Republicans, two years later: do you still believe that? And if so, don't you have a responsibility to scrap your wildly unpopular budget plan?

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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"Finger on the pulse"?

"Grip on the jugular" is more like it.

Posted by: bignose on April 20, 2011 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that most folks don't know what the Republican agenda is. They think it's the Democrats who are trying to do all this horrible stuff, and the Republicans are STANDING UP TO THE POTUS to put a stop to all the horrible stuff he and the Dems want to do. And, the Dems never tell the public otherwise, as the run to the right to hide behind the skirts of the Republicans. Meanwhile the president says "We" instead of "Republicans" whenever he complains about what the Thuglicans did.

Posted by: walldon on April 20, 2011 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

As long as propaganda arms of the Rethug party continue to lie about the facts to cover their tracks,the right wingers will forge ahead, because the people who are paying to put them in office are getting all the financial benefit from their activities. The point is that the Thugs don't represent the people. They represent moneyed interests, and don't care what the people want.

Posted by: candideinnc on April 20, 2011 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

As the health care debate again proved, uninformed Americans don't care about the details, they are for or against whatever focus group tested catch phrase is thrown at them. And the Republicans are the masters of focus group tested catch phrases.

Did this poll ask if people supported the Republican Plan, or even The Ryan Budget Plan? I'm not really sure we want to know the results of such a poll.

This is the same American public that thinks we spend a huge percent of the budget on foreign aid, that wants to cut everything except what they like and wants to keep the government out of Medicare.

They just aren't detail oriented and that works almost exclusively in the Republicans favor.

Posted by: martin on April 20, 2011 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

What the public wants and what they are going to get are two different things. When the average recipient gets back 2 to 3 times as much dollar value as he put into the system in payroll deductions and the ratio of recipients to producers is increasing then the system has to change regardless of these poll numbers.

Posted by: lou on April 20, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's up to the Democrats to keep sending out the message.

But just yesterday, I heard Matthews say, "Well, Republicans have asway been good at fiscal restraint."

And I wanted to kick in my TV.

The last Republican who might have been good at fiscal restraint was either Coolidge or Hoover.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 20, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Public opinion regarding citizen priorities hasn't changed so much as the Republicans think!

They correctly read the worries of us American voters (not us on this thread, but us as in the unassuming American electorate) prior to the 2010 election and worked millions of dollars into the election cycle claiming to be the best to allay American's fears, by campaigning on jobs, jobs, jobs.

But now that their mega-bullshit got them into office, they've just gone back to their old stale ways! If middle and working class Americans can't discern which political party is for them and which is against them,

whale oil, beef hooked!-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

1) We republicans do have our finger on the pulse of the American public that counts, namely that of our corporate benefactors and our corporately owned media.

2) The Inside The Beltway Pundits understand that it is we republicans who know that fiscal restraint is necessary and that it is imperative that we share the pain among the lower classes.

3) The bulk of the amerikan sheeple will continue to believe what we and our corporately owned media tell them.

4) Why can you liberal idiots not comprehend that the only problems with OUR American economy is that the wealthy do not have enough wealth and that we have too big a middle class in OUR country?

5) You keep forgetting that we wealthy republicans are a principled group and our main principles are:
- More is never enough!
- I've got mine, f*ck you!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on April 20, 2011 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

of course, when the truth is explained to them, most Americans don't want what the GOP is selling. it's up to the Democrats, and quite frankly, US, to tell every Senior we see about what the GOP wants to do.

Posted by: rikyrah on April 20, 2011 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Among the blooming of weakness in response to insulting suggestions of self immolation as an answer to the final corrections of redistribution of the rightful owners of wealth comes the idea of dawn , light and awakening . This is a self correcting problem that with the lullaby of the control of corporate personalities by the likes of , Hearst , Sulzberger , Murdoch , Hiat , that will soon be a ripple lost amongst the waves of Utopian visions of the ownership society .
In conclusion any idea of an organized and consistent , thoughtful , fact based , common sense , honest historical precedent , continuing after a momentary teeny weeny overreach by said overlords of meedja , Yeah Right .

Posted by: FRP on April 20, 2011 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

presenting "lou", auditioning for comedy troll of the year award.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on April 20, 2011 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The "American People" will say one thing, then do what they always do, come November: Vote Republican.
(Comrade Pavlov showed us why that is!)

Posted by: DAY on April 20, 2011 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Concerned, some "people" do find it difficult to admit that "America has a debt problem."

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was told "deficits don't matter" when he warned of a looming fiscal crisis.

O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency.

O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on April 20, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

You have to wonder what planet Matthews lives on don't you c u n d gulag.

More importantly you have to wonder how did a sixty somthing guy so singularly uninformed get a television show.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Let us hope this is the political equivalent of slashing your wrists in the bathtub.

Posted by: bob h on April 20, 2011 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

They, as a group, keep saying "Well, back home, my constituents tell me". They are all reading from the same script. The US Rep Dr from the Western part of Louisiana, kept repeating this as he condemned "Obamacare" on a MSNBC interview. Funny thing about that doctor. Without the government, he would not be in his position. Trained to be a medical doctor by the US Navy, his paychecks came for many years from the same US government he says needs to be cut. As he ran a family practice after leaving the Navy, I would imagine he had many a Medicare patient.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 20, 2011 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Once again proving that it is not our values that separate us, but rather the facts that we believe and know to be true.

In this case, the Republicans claim they are "fixing SS and Medicare," while the media treats that as the conventional interpretation. The people who voted in these polls as if they were Dems will then vote Republican. Ads like the DCCC one claiming that Reps want to eliminate Medicare simply do not correct the record. To these people, it is just more Carvillian spin.

Posted by: Danp on April 20, 2011 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Basically, what @walldon said. Obama, in his statesman role, may not be able to bluntly call Republicans out as the nasty piece of work that they are, but his refusal to stop providing cover for the Republicans with the "we" and "philosphical differences" stuff is extremely frustrating.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

"After seeing the Greek debt crisis on TV..."

That always cracks me up. Wasn't the Greek debt crisis on Dancing with the Stars doing the boogaloo with Bristol Palin?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 20, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

It's a Luntz, Luntz, Luntz, world . Catch phrase talking point and the lie du jour. Up is down .
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
We all know how it will be framed.
If Democrats want to succeed they should hire Luntz. I'm sure his ideology would be overcome by a mass infusion of cash.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on April 20, 2011 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah BTL - I wonder what issues have colored "lou's" ill-informed analysis?

Is he incapable, because of his color-filter, of understanding an economic reality? In a recession unemployment insurance and food stamps have a ratio of $1 to about $1.60 when allocated by government sources. Yes, lou, unlike your fraidie-cat statistics for every one dollar spent on the unemployed and needy, our economy benefits by getting $1.60 as an economic return.

Ah, but who am I fooling? Surely not the fool, "lou"! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 20, 2011 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

A day before last November elections you could have asked those same questions, gotten the same results and the American people would still have voted for Republicans.

It's the amount of corporate support the Republicans get

It's the media that is no longer unbiased, but an arm of it's corporate ownerships agenda.

and it's the mean-spirited, bitter, resentful mind-set of the American people.

I just don't see things changing for a long time.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 20, 2011 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Lets hope this turns out badly for the Republicans. They have made it clear that if they win, they will end Medicare as we know it. I wish we were not in a situation where Democrats have to win in order to keep Medicare.

Posted by: david1234 on April 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Here's a question for those same Republicans, two years later: do you still believe that? And if so, don't you have a responsibility to scrap your wildly unpopular budget plan?"

This may be the wrong question since they have no alternative ideas or orthodoxy. They may even double down and try to make things even worse, hoping the public will blame the President.

Posted by: max on April 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

If the GOP is working under the assumption that voters love its agenda, the party is making a tragic mistake.

Sshhh! We need them to take a few more steps towards the end of the gangplank before they see the sharks!

Posted by: chi res on April 20, 2011 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

By all accounts, most people were in favor of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but were still against the bill itself. It almost doesn't matter that people have kind of sensible opinions when presented with the issues a la carte. They seem to vote for the perceived package of firm defense and fiscal restraint that the Republican image stands for, however falsely.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on April 20, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK
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