Click on the logo to see the poll I teased about in a post yesterday. It’s from Bloomberg and, contrary to what House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been saying the American people want, it shows an electorate that is uninformed and anything but unified or certain when it comes to the budget.
According to the story by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Heidi Przybyla, there’s much in this poll that bears reviewing and it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time to read the whole thing, but here’s the money quote that provides a sense of why this year’s budget debate is so difficult to handicap:
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.
Note that the areas where “lopsided margins” oppose cuts are the same ones that the GOP has already proposed or is promising to cut. Add another result from the poll — that “repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year” is supported by a majority even though the GOP insisted last year that they be extended — and you get the same continuing picture that, in spite of the public rhetoric, is absolutely undeniable: “Reducing the deficit” is very popular but almost all of the changes that would actually reduce the deficit are exceedingly unpopular.
The other most instructive aspect of the poll, especially because the end of current two-week continuing resolution is just barely a week away, is the wide disparity between Republicans and Democrats in the poll.
Only 6 percent of Democrats say the issue of spending cuts is important enough to warrant a shutdown, compared with 92 percent who said they want to avoid that; 29 percent of Republicans say deep reductions need to be made even if it means closing down the government for a time, while 69 percent say that should be avoided. Just over 7 of 10 independents say they want compromise.
Forty-six percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Tea Party supporters call the deficit and government spending the most important issue facing the country, compared with 16 percent of Democrats, for whom jobs ranks first. Almost 7 in 10 Republicans and Tea Party backers say spending is the more important priority over jobs, while 77 percent of Democrats choose job creation over the deficit. Jobs are the higher priority for independents, by a margin of 55 percent to 42 percent — almost identical to respondents overall.
This is pretty much how the debate on Capitol Hill has been playing out. The GOP is playing to its base; the Democrats are playing to the independents. Until that changes, a compromise will be difficult.
Finally, as I noted yesterday, only one area of the budget has a majority. Let’s say it together and in unison: foreign aid.