Now As Always, Jobs Over Deficit Reduction

This isn’t a huge surprise to those who have been paying attention to public opinion, but Gallup has found once again that sizable majorities of Americans–and of independents and Republicans–favor immediate government action to create jobs via direct spending programs or targeted tax cuts, without demands for the kind of “offsets” congressional Republicans and deficit hawks generally invariably make.

The specific questions asked about tax breaks for companies creating jobs in America; a government program that would put Americans back to work on infrastructure repairs; and more vaguely, a federal law to create a million new jobs. On the second and third items, two version were asked: one not mentioning that “government spending” would be involved, and another mentioning “spending.” The latter version knocked a few points off support levels (mainly among Republicans), but even then, 53% of Republicans favored the “infrastructure” proposal and 56% favored the “million jobs” initiative (indies favored them by 71% and 69%, respectively).

Gallup chose these formulations because they represented key elements of the president’s supposedly arch-liberal 2013 State of the Union Address, with the first two also appearing in his famously stalled 2011 jobs proposal.

Even if you don’t buy the idea that these findings show congressional Republicans aren’t really representing their own rank-and-file in the endless fiscal debates in Washington, there’s not much doubt they do show the public broadly prioritizing jobs over deficit reduction. This shouldn’t be news, but since it’s been ignored for so long in most Beltway assessments of economic and fiscal policy, it should finally get a lot more ink.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.