When it comes to a strategy to contain the runaway deficit, Americans have issues with both parties, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll:
• Republicans hold a 12-percentage-point edge over Democrats as the party better able to handle the budget, and a 5-point edge on the economy in general. Democrats hold a narrow advantage only in overseeing healthcare.
• Two-thirds of Americans worry the Republican plan for reducing the budget deficit would cut Medicare and Social Security too much.
• Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed, 71%, worry that the Democrats’ plan “won’t go far enough to fix the problem.” Meanwhile, 62% fear they might use the deficit as an excuse to raise taxes.
• Nearly two-thirds, 64%, fear the Republicans’ deficit plan will take away needed protections for the poor and the disadvantaged and will “protect the rich at the expense of everyone else.”
• By more than 3-to-1, those surveyed say the deficit stems from too much spending, rather than too little tax revenue.
• About half of Americans, 48%, want to do it entirely or mostly with spending cuts. Some 37% support an equal mix of spending cuts and tax increases; 11% prefer mostly tax hikes.
• A majority of Americans say today’s youth aren’t likely to have a better life than their parents, a judgment that seriously disputes the old-fashioned American dream.
Joseph White, a political scientist at Case Western Reserve University who studies budget politics and policy says that while the GOP has held its political base together, the nation is still polarized along partisan lines.
“Everybody can find something they don’t like,” he says, “but that doesn’t mean there’s a majority to cut anything in particular.”
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