Friday, February 22, 2013

HOW ANTI-AUSTERIAN ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? VERY, VERY ANTI-AUSTERIAN

Steve Benen highlights a result in a new Bloomberg poll: survey respondents are absolutely wrong about what's happening to the budget deficit in America.
... there was one question in the poll that struck me as especially important: "Let's turn to the federal budget deficit. This is the amount the government spends that is more than the amount it takes in from taxes and other revenue. Is it your sense that this year the deficit is getting bigger or getting smaller, or is it staying about the same as last year?"





... in the midst of a major national debate over America's finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% -- 6%! -- are correct.

For the record, last year, over President Obama's first four years, the deficit shrunk by about $300 billion. This year, the deficit is projected to be about $600 billion smaller than when the president took office....
So deficits are shrinking, but people overwhelmingly believe deficits are growing.

Now, let's turn to the headline results of the poll:
Americans want Congress to delay steep spending cuts to give the economic recovery more time to take hold, according to a Bloomberg News poll....

Fifty-four percent of poll respondents favor postponing $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts during the next nine years beginning on March 1, compared with 40 percent who say Congress should act now before the deficit gets out of control, in the poll conducted Feb. 15-18....
Put these two results together and what do you learn? You learn that Americans reject austerity as a budget-shrinking measure even though they think the budget is much more out of control than it actually is. Even laboring under that misconception, they think it's a bad time for belt-tightening.

And the poll, like most polls, shows that the public hates deficits. The public thinks the government has a horrible spending problem. And yet ... the public prioritizes economic growth. Because, clearly, the economy still sucks for most Americans, and dealing with that problem is most Americans' top priority.

So back off, austerians.

4 comments:

trnc said...

You make an excellent point, but this is exactly the reason I hate most polls. It's no surprise that people think the deficit is worse than it is since "news" organizations push the apocalyptic view of deficits and debt (during dem presidencies). But what is the point of asking someone whether deficits are getting worse without asking if they even have ball park figures for deficits in the last five years. It just reinforces the idea that people should have opinions based on no factual basis whatsoever.

Of course, the austerians won't back off. They'll just push "everyone thinks the deficits are really bad" without the caveats or corrections.

BH said...

Of course the austerians won't back off. No need to. The House of Reps doesn't care about such poll results, thanks to gerrymandering, & that's where the fiscal action is. Moreover, the austerians' whole argument is that the non-rich are treated too generously already, and so in a backhanded way, such poll results reinforce their position by showing that the masses have become dangerously addicted to all them there "welfares" & need a dose of Rand-Friedman castor oil.

Sean Riley said...

When it comes to anything even remotely wonky, most Americans are operating on a junior-high level. 'Murr'kins, on the other hand? Kindergarten at best...

Philo Vaihinger said...

No doubt they think it's huge and growing because Washington and the press are making such a huge and growing big deal out of it.

So, working out fine for the right wing, eh?