All recent polling reveals that the American people back President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and his commitment to protect Medicare from any significant changes. He appears to have a majority of U.S. citizens with him on each issue. The message from the polls is that the GOP’s polar opposite positions on these two very important issues puts the party way out of step with the public. But both parties should also get a strong message from all of the polls that the public wants to see the deficit addressed in a serious and bi-partisan manner. The highest number I have seen came from the Washington Post/Pew poll that found that 81% of Americans believed that the federal budget deficit was a problem that needs to be addressed now, with just 14% saying that it should be addressed only when the economy improves.
But when you look further into the results, you find that the public has definite ideas on how to address the deficit problem. The clear message is that they aren’t for just any deficit reduction plan. For example, the public strongly supports raising taxes for the wealthy and large corporations, but they strongly oppose major changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Interestingly, folks are ambivalent about cuts to defense spending. The latest NBC/WSJ poll found that 78% of Americans felt that cuts to Medicare were an “unacceptable” way of reducing the deficit, with 51% saying this approach was “totally unacceptable.” A recent CNN/ORC poll showed 64% did not want changes to Medicare or Social Security.
The results from all of the recent polling should send a strong message to members of Congress that something must be done about the federal deficit, but that no dramatic budget cuts will be tolerated in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The polls also show that most Americans believe increased revenues should be a part of the solution, and that the wealthy and huge corporations should do more and actually bear the brunt of the needed increases. I believe that any member of the House or Senate who continues to protect those politically-powerful groups – to the detriment of these three programs – will have to answer for it at the polls next year.
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