Thursday, December 9, 2010

Voter Preferences

This column in Slate collects the American voters views, according to polls, on economic policy. No wonder that policy is stalemated. Two snippets:

But the polled American is not sure whether the government should be doing so much to aid the economy in the first place. And, for her, all bets are off if the tax compromise becomes known as Stimulus 3.0 (or 2.0). She barely liked the 2009 stimulus when Congress passed it, and she certainly does not like it now. (The financial regulatory reform bill? She's made her peace with that.) Yet, in an enduring example of the polled American's propensity for containing multitudes, she likes virtually all of the elements of stimulus, such as the tax breaks, unemployment insurance, infrastructure investment, and bolstered food stamps—a case of the parts besting the sum, apparently. And she thinks the country needs more of those provisions. She also supports an increase in the minimum wage.

So how does the polled American think we should tackle the deficit issue? He knows that programs need cuts—tax hikes alone can't, and shouldn't, pull the country out of this mess. But he wants Washington to leave Social Security and Medicare well enough alone. And he hesitates to bring the ax to energy, health, or education programs. That said, he supports several provisions proposed by the president's debt commission—like shrinking the federal workforce, cutting federal salaries, closing overseas bases, and ending the tax deduction on home mortgage interest. And one program to really trim is America's generous foreign aid. The polled American thinks the government ships a quarter of our budget overseas, and thinks we should spend only $1 of every $10 helping out other nations. (In reality, the foreign aid amounts to less than 1 percent of the federal budget.)

This last part is great. Voters want to reduce the amount of foreign aid the government gives to a level ten times higher than we do! I don't think this can be done even standing on a chair.

Note also this article from Bloomberg that reports polling on the deficit. Americans want the deficit reduced. But the public also wants
...Congress to keep its hands off entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. They oppose cuts in most other major domestic programs and defense. They want to maintain subsidies for farmers and tax breaks like the mortgage-interest deduction. And they’re against an increase in the gasoline tax.
I want to lose weight without cutting down my caloric intake. Not having great success with that program either.

No wonder policymakers can get nothing done. We would be better off, perhaps, if policy could be made in secret and then we voted after the fact based on results. I think that leads basically to dictatorship.

1 comment:

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