As in the case of Gov. Scott Walker’s polls-number-killing confrontation with unions over the right for public unions to have collective bargaining, you have to wonder if this poll is yet more evident that Republicans riskover-reaching:
Americans are sending a message to congressional Republicans: Don’t shut down the federal government or slash spending on popular programs.
Almost 8 in 10 people say Republicans and Democrats should reach a compromise on a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit to keep the government running, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. At the same time, lopsided margins oppose cuts to Medicare, education, environmental protection, medical research and community-renewal programs.
If this isn’t a big, fat political warning flag what is? And Democrats should not be smiling since there are most assuredly political pitfalls displayed in this poll for them as well:
While Americans say it’s important to improve the government’s fiscal situation, among the few deficit-reducing moves they back are cutting foreign aid, pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year.
The results of the March 4-7 poll underscore the hazards confronting Republicans, as well as President Barack Obama and Democrats, as they face a showdown over funding the government and seek a broader deficit-reduction plan.
“Americans do not have a realistic picture of the budget,” says J. Ann Selzer, the Des Moines, Iowa-based pollster who conducted the survey. “We all know people who are in debt yet cannot for the life of them figure out where the money goes.”
Overall, public concern about the deficit — which is projected to reach $1.6 trillion this year — is growing, although it’s still eclipsed by employment, with poll respondents ranking job creation as a higher priority.
Most Americans want to see Democrats and Republicans come to a compromise on the federal budget to avoid a government shutdown, but they also see the congressional GOP benefiting more from a halt to all non-essential spending.
Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed for a Bloomberg National Poll released Wednesday morning acknowledged that cuts need to be made to reduce the deficit but said it’s more important that Congress come to an agreement that keeps the government operating. Two in 10 people, meanwhile, said that cuts should be made even if that means shutting down the government for a while.
If there were to be a shutdown, Americans see Republicans more likely to win political points, with 45 percent of those surveyed saying the GOP would benefit, while 34 percent said Democrats would gain.
As some deficit hawks ramp up their efforts to inform the public of the dangers of ever-larger annual deficits and mounting national debt, the issue is becoming more important to Americans.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.