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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira: Public Cautious on Spending Cuts

Conservatives are pulling out all stops in trying to implant the meme that the public wants an all-out war on the federal deficit, including spending cuts of the sort Republicans favor. In his latest ‘Public Opinion Snapshot’ at the Center for American Progress web pages, however, TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira explains:

…The grain of truth here is that the public is in fact concerned about the size of the deficit. But everything else is wrong. There are many more important things to the public than cutting the deficit.
Take jobs, for example. The public declared by 60-38 in a mid-June Gallup/USA Today poll that they favored Congress passing new legislation this year that would provide “additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy.” Of course, this is exactly the kind of legislation conservatives are now strenuously opposing on the grounds the public is sick and tired of spending to create jobs.

As for other cuts in social spending,

…A late June Pew poll asked the public if they’d approve of various spending cuts to balance their state’s budget this year. The public opposed all of them. This included 73-21 opposition to cutting funding for K-12 public schools; 71-25 opposition to cutting funding for police, fire, and other public safety departments; 65-27 opposition to cutting health care services provided by state or local government; and 50-43 opposition to cutting funding for maintaining roads and public transportation systems.

At a time when congress is considering a range of new initiatives to stimulate the economy and hiring, Teixeira says it’s important to remember that the public wants to keep essential social programs: “Policymakers would do well to remember this as they consider bills that would pump additional money into the economy by extending unemployment benefits, preventing teacher layoffs, and the like. Killing these bills in the name of deficit reduction is not doing the public’s bidding–it’s exactly the reverse.”

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