Thursday, December 16, 2010

Public Opinion on Deficit Reduction

Americans want to reduce the deficit, but don't support policies that will reduce the deficit. This seems to be the case, at least, from a recent Washington Post poll.

A majority of respondents (56%) think we should start reducing the deficit now, rather than after the economy recovers. Yet, a majority (62%) also support the tax cut deal reached by Obama and Republican leaders, even after they were told it will add $900 billion to the deficit.

Also, other policies that would reduce the deficit got little support, such as increasing the gas tax (21%), reducing the rate of growth in Social Security benefits (36%), eliminating the tax deduction for children (34%), reducing defense spending (44%), reducing agriculture subsidies (44%), and raising capital gains taxes (43%). Only 3 proposals came close to receiving majority support: increasing the retirement age for Social Security (48%), eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction for homes worth more than $500k and second homes (49%), and reducing Social Security benefits for wealthy retirees (49%).

These results show the difficulty in reducing the deficit. The message members on Congress hear from the public is "reduce the deficit, just don't make any cuts that effect me." Congress members often take a lot of criticism for our current financial mess. This criticism is partly deserved, but in a democracy the legislative body is simply responding to popular will, as it should. Therefore, (as I pointed out in a previous post) the blame ultimately lies with us, the voters.

1 comment:

Former Gator in DC said...

It is possible that extending the tax cuts will force the Republicans into the uncomfortable position of having to extend the debt limit early in the next Congress. When that happens, I would be curious to see analysis of those who supported the tax cut extension and those who vote against raising the debt limit (I suppose the same analaysis could be done with past debt limit raises as well).