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Opinion: Why Most People Want More Cuts - And More Taxes

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 02:03 PM

A recent Gallup poll has underscored the growing consensus showing the American people favor spending cuts over tax increases in the effort to reduce the debt, but they overwhelmingly want there to be a mix of the two.

In this poll, only 20 percent of respondents said they want the deficit to be solved with only spending cuts, and only four percent say they want it to be solved with only tax increases. The remaining 69 percent (minus undecideds) want a mix of some kind, with 62 percent who want the deficit to be solved "Mostly with spending cuts" or "Equally with spending cuts and tax increases" (32 percent). So the big picture is that a large supermajority wants a mix of both cuts and more revenue, with a substantial lean towards more cuts than tax increases.

This is also an illustration of the disconnect many politicians have from the American people. The position of most of the Republican party is solidly within that 20 percent who only want spending cuts, with a shrinking minority that has enough of a moderate streak to potentially support a plan that has some new revenue mixed in, as long as spending cuts are the lion's share of the deficit reduction.

Democrats do a little better. There are some really out-there types who think we shouldn't cut anything, and just raise taxes. Paul Krugman is that sort of left winger, having long argued that we need to raise taxes a lot, spend a lot more and not cut spending. Why people take him seriously when he consistently aligns with fringe positions - about seven percent of the American populace, is beyond me.

Thankfully there are plenty of Democrats who are more commonsensical, having come out for something nearer to the more mainstream position wanting an equal share of tax increases or spending cuts.

As has been said by a growing number of observers, the only powerful politician who is acting like the adult in the room, at least publically, is President Obama. As I've said repeatedly, he's as much to blame for being in this position as anyone else, having passed on the opportunity to push for the sort of compromise he's trying to accomplish now months ago, when election cycle politics were not so inflammatory. But he chose to hold onto this as a political football, and we're going to find out if that choice leads to disaster or not.

It's a shame that the real champions of this story aren't particularly powerful - another example of how moderates are losing clout. The members of the Gang of Six, and other members of Congress and organizations who have worked with them, have been championing the sort of compromise that the president is now pushing for a long time.

They knew what the polls are saying now, that the American people want more cuts, but they want some revenue increases, like letting the Bush tax cuts to high-income earners to expire and closing the many unfair tax loopholes. They also knew that anything that had a chance of passing would have to look something like this compromise. Let's hope their approach prevails.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.

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Comments [4]

Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Krugman the former economist and Krugman the political pundit are two different people. I don't care enough to read too much about the guy, but people who are into that sort of thing have gone back and found a bunch of examples where things he's saying now that he's a political figure even go against things he said when he was just some economist.

I think the guy is crazy intelligent, but he seems more than willing to throw all that out the window when he starts talking about politics, like any other zealot.

Jul. 19 2011 10:02 PM

Why should members of Congress care about the public's view on these issues? The public elected them into their offices. The public by an large settles for whichever the lesser of two incompetents the two parties put forth.
Cuts and taxes are not the solution, these are simply the only mechanisms that Congress seems capable of understanding. Since they are not the solution, employing them doesn't solve the problem. Using them will alter the conditions that the economy will operate under but it won't correct the underlyng problem.
The intelligence of Congress can seriously be called into question here; and in fact they could take the American Intelligence Test #11 on now4yourconsideration's blog on blogspot.

Jul. 17 2011 01:48 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

Well, now that we have established what the "super-majority" wants, I guess the problem must be solved especially considering that this poll-delivered panacea is an almost perfectly centrist mix of a "little bit of this plus a little bit of that" with a touch more emphasis on the cuts...

I come from a country where a vast majority of people stood underneath a balcony cheering ecstatically to a man who led them into a monumental disaster of historical proportions so excuse me if don't join into the enthusiasm for poll-driven policy.
I also find it very amusing that Mr. Kleinsmith defines Economics Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman as an "out there" member of some "fringe" when his ideas are rooted in textbook Keynesian macroeconomics theories thought in any college and shared by many others like Joseph Stiglitz who also happens to be a Nobel Prize Winner in Economics.
I don't pretend to know what the best course of action is, but if I said in a public porum that a Noble Prize winner is "out there" at the very least I would feel compelled to give a technical explanation of what my rationale is.
That sure would be a nice touch...

Jul. 17 2011 01:10 AM
Mark from St Martin

Absolutely...usually the selfishness of the American public contributes to the ideological stupidity of our politicians...but in this case our political leaders are just plain fools all by themselves!

Jul. 16 2011 08:08 PM

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