Americans’ appetite for deep cuts: still nonexistent

AMERICANS’ APPETITE FOR DEEP CUTS: STILL NONEXISTENT…. I can’t remember the last time there was a greater disconnect between public demands and policymakers’ priorities. It’s almost comical in its ridiculousness.

To hear congressional Republicans tell it, Americans are desperate to see sweeping cuts to public spending and an unwavering commitment to deficit reduction. Indeed, this assumption has served as the basis for two months of heated debate in Washington, with GOP leaders boasting about how they, and only they, are delivering on what the public wants.

And yet, the evidence to the contrary remains overwhelming.

More than nine in 10 Americans call the federal budget deficit a serious problem, the poll shows — as many as seven in 10 call it very serious. However, just 7 percent named the deficit as the most important problem facing the country today. Most Americans, 51 percent, called the economy and jobs the most important problem, and most Americans agree Washington is not doing enough to create jobs.

Asked specifically which is more important, cutting spending or creating jobs, 63% said job creation should be the top goal, with 26% saying spending cuts should be the priority. As absurd as this seems, congressional Republicans are desperate to side with the 26% minority over the 63% majority, even after promising for two years to focus on jobs.

Indeed, 68% of Americans don’t agree on much, but they agree that lawmakers aren’t spending enough time focused on bringing down unemployment.

And yet, one-sided results like these still won’t change the debate. Policymakers and the very-serious media voices will continue a foolish debate — whether to cut a little or cut a lot — while the public clamors for a jobs policy that isn’t even on the table.

Let me say this plainly: most folks just don’t care about cutting spending or the deficit. They care about growing the economy and creating jobs. It’s not just one poll; every poll says the same thing.

Why did the electorate vote in a bunch of Republicans with the opposite priorities? Because folks were frustrated with the status quo, and didn’t realize the GOP that kept asking “where are the jobs?” would immediately start working on plans to make the jobs crisis worse.

But because our political system is so often exasperating, White House and congressional leaders will nevertheless sit down fairly soon, and to avoid a government shutdown, begin talks on just how many unpopular cuts it will take to make Republicans happy enough to end their hostage strategy. Dems should have leverage in these talks — what the GOP wants is the opposite of what the American mainstream wants — but that will almost certainly make no difference whatsoever.