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Public Smarter Than Lawmakers On Fiscal Mess

by John on 05/09/2012

Some good stuff this morning from Ben White.  He writes a great blast email you should subscribe to.  It’s free.  It’s called Morning Money from Politico.

Today White led with a new poll released by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, one of the best think tanks on the economy and our fiscal woes.

Peterson wrote a great book in 2005 called Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.  It is still relevant today.

So are the results of this poll.  And they should make us all very optimistic about our nation, but not our leaders. 

  • The public is, as Peterson tells White, “ahead of its leadership.”
  • The public is OK with shared sacrifice
  • The public knows there has to be spending cuts AND tax hikes together.
  • The public wants a grand bargain on deficit reduction.
  • The public wants fundamental, long-term, structural changes which mean that austerity and stimulus can work together.

The Informed Not Inflamed take: We are screaming for Simpson-Bowles.

Here are the specific results from the Peterson poll:

  • 81% say that the national debt is a major problem that must be addressed now
  • 86% agree that reducing the deficit would help the economy
  • 87% believe that to solve the long-term debt problem, Republicans will have to agree to some tax increases and Democrats will have to agree to some spending cuts
  • 53% would be more likely to support a candidate for Congress if they knew that the candidate supported a bipartisan agreement that included both spending cuts and tax increases
  • 76% of middle class voters believe that the middle class should contribute to the solution.
  • 66% are willing to pay 1% more of their income in taxes to help reduce the national debt
  • 76% would be willing to pay 1% more of their income in taxes to help protect Social Security and Medicare for future generations
  • 76% of voters approve of providing smaller but more accurate cost of living adjustments for Social Security benefits each year — including 74% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans
  • 66% would be willing to give up 1% of their Social Security benefits so that Social Security is stronger and available for future generations

Let me go deeper into the media bias aspects.  If this study is true:

  1. Obviously, the majority of us are not taking our economic views from Fox News or MSNBC.
  2. The Internet and social media are bringing us more sources of information.
  3. We are finding ways to become efficiently informed in our busy lives.
  4. The two major political parties are losing a large portion of the American electorate as core constituents.
  5. The drivers of the extreme economic positions are the paid special interests – namely corporations, SuperPacs, and unions.
  6. Our political system is broke if the parties keep bringing us candidates who don’t appeal to anyone and it is merely a choice of the lesser of two evils.

I am feeling much better now.  At least we know the problem.

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