United Technologies and National Journal came out with a poll recently that tracked public opinion on the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, and the budget.
I want to highlight a few of the results that I found interesting.
(CC4) Which one of the following possible outcomes of an agreement to reduce the deficit concerns you MOST?35% said that they were most concerned that it would cut too much from government programs like Medicare and Social Security.
25% said that they were most concerned that it would raise taxes on “people like them.”
17% said that they were most concerned that it would not meet its target for reducing the federal deficit and debt.
14% said that they were most concerned that it would allow for too much federal spending in the next few years.
The question on taxes, to me, shows the success of Republican messaging. They've been able to condition people to see "taxes" as "taxes on them" and get them, consequently, to identify with the interests of the 1%.
The UT/NJ poll compared these results to those in polls taken in October 2012 and November 2011. The results were within the margin of error of each other.
CC5. I’m going to read you some government programs whose spending could be cut to reduce the federal budget deficit. As I read each one, please tell me if you think spending on that program should be cut back a lot, some, or not at all to reduce the deficit?Social Security & Medicare
76% said that Social Security should not be cut at all; only 18% thought it should be cut “some,” and a nearly non-existent 3% said that it should be cut “a lot.” Americans oppose such cuts, then, 76 % - 21%.
81% said that Medicare should not be cut at all; only 14% thought that it should be cut “some,” and a nearly non-existent 4% thought that it should be cut “a lot.” Americans oppose such cuts, then, 81% - 18%.
The results in both cases showed little change from November/December 2012 and February 2012, the last times such questions were asked.
In other words, as we all know, it would be political malpractice for the Democrats to agree to any plan that cuts Social Security and Medicare benefits. (I would emphasize the “benefits” aspect of Medicare because you can cut spending by allowing the government to negotiate for prescription drug prices.)
The Republicans who’ve been pushing cuts to these programs over the past few days are, as we already know, out of touch with their base:
Broad deficit reduction could strain R coalition more than #Obamacare: nearly 4/5 of whites >50 oppose any medicare cuts in new #UTCNJCCPollDefense
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) October 11, 2013
34% thought that defense spending should not be cut at all, 44% thought that it should be cut “some,” and 18% thought that it should be cut “a lot.” Thus, Americans supported defense cuts 62% to 34%. Maybe our leaders in Washington will listen?
These numbers were within the margin of error of past polls.
60% thought that Medicaid for low-income families should not be cut at all. 30% thought that it should be cut “some,” and 7% thought it should be cut “a lot.” Thus, Americans oppose Medicaid cuts 60% to 37%.
These numbers are similar to past polls, but do show a slight increase in support for cuts and slight decrease in opposition to them.
42% thought that “food stamps and housing vouchers that go to low-income families” should not be cut at all. 39% thought that such programs should be cut “some,” and 17% thought that such programs should be cut “a lot.” That produces a 56% to 42% support for cuts.
While most of the other categories showed little, if any, movement, there was noticeable change across polls here. In February 2012, 51% supported not cuts at all, 37% supported “some cuts,” and 9% supported a “lot” of cuts. Back then, opposition to cuts won 51% to 37%. In November/December 2012, support for (50%) and opposition to (49%) cuts were effectively tied.
This seems, unfortunately, to be a case in which both parties really are to blame. I would guess that Republicans followed their party away from “some” to “a lot,” and Democrats followed the party away from “not at all” to “some.” We can’t forget that the Senate version of the farm bill contained cuts to SNAP as well (although not as deep as the House’s), and that Sen. Debbie Stabenow said she’d be willing to cut even deeper. A majority of the Democratic caucus even voted against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s amendment to restore SNAP cuts by cutting crop insurance subsidies.
Whom will our politicians in Washington represent: Wall Street and the defense contractors OR the voters?