Americans To Congress: Cut The Deficit, But Not Our Entitlements
Once again, we have proof that when it comes to fiscal matters the American people are rather schizophrenic:
Americans want Congress to bring down a federal budget deficit that many believe is “dangerously out of control,” only under two conditions: minimize the pain and make the rich pay.
The public wants Congress to keep its hands off entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. They oppose cuts in most other major domestic programs and defense. They want to maintain subsidies for farmers and tax breaks like the mortgage-interest deduction. And they’re against an increase in the gasoline tax.
That aversion to sacrifice is at odds with a spate of recent studies, including one by President Barack Obama’s debt panel, that say reductions in Medicare, Social Security, military and other spending are necessary to curb a deficit that totaled $1.29 trillion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, or 9 percent of the gross domestic product.
“The idea that we can solve our structural-deficit problems merely by asking more of the well-off is totally unrealistic,” said David Walker, who was U.S. comptroller general from 1998 to 2008 and now leads a group advocating against deficits. “The math simply doesn’t work.”
According to the Dec. 4-7 poll, taken days after Obama’s commission sounded an alarm over the nation’s “unsustainable fiscal path,” the public still believes it’s more important to “minimize sacrifice” than to take “bold and fast” action to pare the $13.7 trillion national debt.
This is why I don’t think we’re going to really tackle our fiscal and economic problems until we actually reach the crisis point.