A Gallup poll shows On Deficit, Americans Prefer Spending Cuts; Open to Tax Hikes

Americans’ preferences for deficit reduction clearly favor spending cuts to tax increases, but most Americans favor a mix of the two approaches. Twenty percent favor an approach that relies only on spending cuts and 4% favor an approach that uses tax increases alone.

Overall Results – Any Political Affiliation

Both Republicans and Democrats appear willing to raise the debt limit, provided the government outlines plans to significantly reduce federal deficits in the future. The parties generally agree on making deep spending cuts, but do not agree on whether tax increases should be included to help reach their target goals for deficit reduction. Many Republicans in Congress oppose any such tax increases; thus, the legislation may not pass if tax hikes are included.

Americans do not necessarily share this view, with 20% saying deficit reduction should come only through spending cuts. That percentage is a little higher, 26%, among those who identify as Republicans. Republicans do, however, tilt heavily in favor of reducing the deficit primarily if not exclusively with spending cuts (67%) as opposed to tax increases (3%). Fifty-one percent of independents share that preference. Democrats are most inclined to want equal amounts of spending cuts and tax increases (42%), though more favor a tilt toward spending cuts (33%) than tax increases (20%).

Results by Political Party

The question does not make clear what types of tax increases Americans might be willing to accept, or whether those saying deficit reduction should come “mostly” from spending cuts would prefer that the proportion of spending cuts be closer to 51% or 99%. The public has been willing to endorse higher taxes on wealthy Americans in recent months, in terms of allowing Bush-era income tax cuts to expire and as a means of keeping Social Security solvent.

Republican Voters Open to Compromise

There are other questions in the survey including questions on “why” people are concerned about the debt limit. Inquiring minds may wish to give the link a closer look.

The interesting factor to me is that only 26% of Republicans say the budget should be balanced only with spending cuts. Among the Democrats, only 8% say it should be done only with tax hikes.

The key take-away is Americans from both parties are willing to accept a budget balancing process that is weighted towards spending cuts as long as there are some tax hikes.

Congress is not open to the same viewpoint.

As I said, I am open to compromise as long as the cuts are genuine, the cuts are not back loaded, and as long as some other key items are tossed in the mix, such as scrapping Davis-Bacon and ending collective bargaining of public unions.

The US would benefit greatly from such an approach. Unfortunately, Republicans are willing to piss away a golden opportunity to present such a plan in favor of plans that will likely not reduce the deficit at all.

Obama Throws Incredibly Fat Pitch

Obama says he is ready to make hard choices. I suggest Republicans should put him to the test.

Obama offered up a fat pitch that Republicans can hit out of the park. All Republicans have to do is insist on ending collective bargaining rights of public unions and scrapping Davis-Bacon in return for very modest tax hikes. Such a deal would be well worth it. Republicans would even win if Obama rejected it. Sadly, Republicans will not play ball at all.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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