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Deficit Commission Proposals Give Most Americans the Shivers, Poll Says

4 years ago
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The sweeping plan put forward by President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission last week, with its calls for deep spending cuts in sacrosanct programs as well as tax increases, has drawn howls of protest from across the political spectrum. The New York Times observed that one of the things the panel hoped to accomplish by proposing measures such as ending the home-mortgage-interest deduction was to "jar the public into recognizing the magnitude of the nation's budget deficit and some of the drastic steps that might be needed to close it."
The commission has at least succeeded on the "jarring" part if the results of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, conducted Nov. 11-15, are any indication. But the outlook for convincing the public to get behind many of the proposals does not look encouraging.
Erskine Bowles and Alan SimpsonThe Journal/NBC poll summed up the commission's draft this way:
"The commission recommends 75 percent come from spending cuts and 25 percent come from increases in tax revenues. Spending reductions include cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and defense spending. The tax increases include higher gasoline taxes, lowering the corporate tax rate but limiting business tax deductions, and placing a limit on the tax deduction for homeowners with mortgages over five hundred thousand dollars."
When it asked those surveyed what they thought, 40 percent called it a bad idea, 25 percent said it was a good idea and 30 percent had no opinion, with 5 percent undecided.
Getting more specific, the poll asked about the comfort level with cuts to Medicare, Social Security and defense spending. Seventy percent said they were very or somewhat uncomfortable with those actions, while 27 percent were somewhat or very comfortable with them. Three percent were not sure. Only 6 percent described themselves as "very" comfortable.
Fifty-nine percent were not comfortable with increasing taxes on things like gasoline and limiting the home mortgage interest deduction compared to 39 percent who were very or somewhat comfortable seeing that done. Only 10 percent were "very" comfortable. Two percent were undecided.
Fifty-seven percent expressed discomfort at increasing the age at which Social Security recipients could get full benefits, while 41 percent had some level of comfort.
Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the survey for Journal/NBC with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, made this unsurprising observation to the Journal: "Everybody wants to cut the deficit and cut the spending. But at the end of the day, everybody wants a choice that doesn't affect their well-being."

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Filed Under: Polls, Poll Watch, Deficit

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