We knew spending cuts — particularly abstract ones — were popular. What we didn’t know was that Democrats are about evenly divided between spending cuts and tax increases:
To ease surging budget deficits, Americans prefer cutting federal services to raising taxes by nearly 2-1 in a new poll. Yet there is little consensus on specific, meaningful steps — and a wariness about touching two gargantuan programs, Social Security and Medicare.
An Associated Press-CNBC Poll showed widespread anxiety about budget shortfalls exceeding $1 trillion a year. Eighty-five percent worry that growing red ink will harm future generations — the strongest expression of concern since AP polls began asking the question in 2008. Fifty-six percent think the shortfalls will spark a major economic crisis in the coming decade.
As for detailed cures, the poll shows little agreement — a problem that has long bedeviled lawmakers who often speak about taming federal deficits but seldom vote to do so. Given more than a dozen options for helping balance the budget, majorities backed just four: Reduce the number of federal workers, trim their salaries, cut overseas military bases and eliminate the tax deduction on home mortgage interest in exchange for lower income tax rates.
Asked to choose between two paths for balancing the budget, 59 percent in the AP-CNBC Poll preferred cutting unspecified government services while 30 percent picked unspecified tax increases. Republicans leaned heavily toward service reductions while Democrats, usually staunch advocates of federal spending, were about evenly split between the two alternatives.
I wonder if Obama and the Democrats are overestimating their hand as they step into the “Slurpee Summit.”