Monday, November 19, 2012

Washington Failing Early Test on Fiscal Cliff

Just as the public was attempting to put the nastiness of the last campaign behind them, the so-called “negotiations” over the fiscal cliff have reminded everyone what they don’t like about Washington. The President and leaders in both parties are showing themselves much better at declaring what they won’t do than what they will do.

The lack of responsible management of the country’s finances and the looming economic consequences of that inaction may finally bring down a torrent of public condemnations that can’t be ignored.

Since the election, the public has told pollsters:
  • Fixing the economy is the top goal for Obama’s second term, with ensuring long-term stability of Social Security in second place.  (Gallup)
  • All three partisan groups – Democrats, Republicans and independents – believe it is extremely or very important to avoid the fiscal cliff (national: 82% extremely or very important).  Seventy-one percent say they are watching the news of the fiscal cliff closely.  (Gallup)
  • A majority of both parties believe both sides should compromise equally – 68%.  (Gallup)
  • Americans have shifted slightly during the last year toward being willing to “increase taxes equally with spending cuts” versus earlier during the debt ceiling crisis in August 2011 when more people felt spending cuts should be “only” or “mostly” used.  This, of course, benefits Democrats in the negotiations (45% equal cuts and taxes, up from 32% in August 2011; 40% only mostly cuts, down from 50%).  (Gallup)
  • Both parties are at risk if their intransigence leads to more political gridlock and a lack of action to improve the economy. But the public believe Republicans will be most responsible if no agreement is reached, although, as expected, Republicans mostly blame the President (68%) (if no agreement, 53% blame Republicans in Congress and 29% will blame Obama).  (Pew)
In the current post-election partisan environment, Republicans appear to be the most likely to be blamed, but the economic consequences will take place on Obama’s watch.  And, both sides said during the campaign, they would act responsibly and compromise to reach a solution.  Voter retribution in the mid-term election is possible and only about 700 days away.

See polls:
Gallup:  Economy, Entitlements, Iran are Americans’ Top Priorities
Gallup:  Americans Urge Congress, the President to Avoid Fiscal Cliff
Gallup:  More in U.S. Now Want Balanced Approach to Cutting Deficit
Pew:  Broad Concern About “Fiscal Cliff” Consequences

1 comment:

RunnerMamma said...

Would increased taxes and decreased federal spending be enough to negate the devaluation of the dollar? Because it is based on a world market, backed by the US Dollar (which isn't any longer backed by precious metals), it would make sense that lending practices would need to be changed in order to make any sort of a material difference. Everytime I see a report on the ficsal Cliff, I feel like I'm watching the end of Dumb & Dumber, where Jim Carey tells the investigators that their IOU receipts are as good as real money. We need to stop offering loans backed be IOUs. Privatization of banks would be the healthiest method of recovery.