It is still all about the economy and jobs. Concerns about spending and deficits have risen, but the top concern remains the economy and creation of good jobs. Moreover, concerns about the deficit often rest on spending that hasn’t created jobs.
A significant portion of voters have felt this recession personally, either through a lost job or struggles to pay housing and bills. Additionally, a majority of voters are also worried they will personally struggle with these same issues and that the next generation will be worse off.
The wind is at progressives’ backs on two fronts:
1) This economic focus extends to favoring programs like job training, education, Social Security, and Medicare over reducing the deficit—so appeals for “across the board” cuts need a response showing the threat they present to these programs. Voters want to set priorities.
2) There is also strong momentum in favor of tax policies favored by progressives. While jobs outweigh deficits 2-1, voters do worry about spending in these tough times. Progressives should respond to this with a “fiscally responsible” frame against massive tax cuts for the wealthy and special interests.
Job creation and economic growth still top the concerns about deficits and government spending. Let me list some issues that have been proposed for the federal government to address. Please tell me which ONE OR TWO of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government. NBC News/WSJ, February 2011
At the state level, Americans are more willing to see an increase in taxes instead of a reduction in benefits for public employees and other funding cuts as a way to address budget deficits. #1 for Democrats (56%) and Independents (34%): If you HAD to chose ONE, which of the following would you be willing to do in order to reduce your STATE’S budget deficit: 1. increase taxes, 2. decrease benefits of public employees like teachers or police officers, 3. decrease funding for roads and public transportation, or 4. decrease funding for education? CBS News/NYT, February 2011
While views on the role of government have been mixed, there has been a sharp improvement since early 2010 and anti-government feelings are not near the levels seen during the mid 90’s. Now, thinking about something else, I'm going to read you two statements about the role of government, and I'd like to know which closer to your point of view. Statement A: Government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people , OR Statement B: Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals ? NBC News/WSJ, February 2011
A significant portion of the population, from 25% to 41% has been personally impacted by this recession through their jobs, ability to afford housing, and other common economic issues. Kaiser Family Foundation, December 2010 As a result of the economic downturn, have you or your family had problems [INSERT AND RANDOMIZE], or not?
A majority of voters value economic security over opportunity. This is especially true among women, 64% of whom choose security. Still thinking about the economy, which is more important to you personally – economic opportunity or economic security? LRP Survey, March 2011
Most Americans are worried about areas like saving for college and not being able to retired—with almost half worried about being unable to pay bills and two out of five concerned about losing their job. Public Agenda, November 2010
A majority believe the next generation will be worse off economically. Do you think the future of the next generation of Americans will be better, worse, or about the same as life today? CBS News/NYT, October 2010
Education, Social Security, Medicare, job training, and tax cuts for the middle class all top reducing the deficit as ways to help people struggling in this economy. How effective do you think the following proposals are when it comes to helping people who are struggling in the current economy? Public Agenda, November 2010
It’s not just “keep your hands off my Medicare” but also education funding, Social Security, and heating assistance that are crucial. Let me you read you a number of programs that could be cut significantly as a way to reduce the current federal budget deficit. For each one, please tell me if you think significantly cutting the funding for this program is totally acceptable, mostly acceptable, mostly unacceptable, or totally unacceptable as a way to help reduce the federal deficit. NBC News/WSJ, February 2011
More find cuts to unemployment insurance unacceptable than cuts to national defense. Let me you read you a number of programs that could be cut significantly as a way to reduce the current federal budget deficit. For each one, please tell me if you think significantly cutting the funding for this program is totally acceptable, mostly acceptable, mostly unacceptable, or totally unacceptable as a way to help reduce the federal deficit. NBC News/WSJ, February 2011
On the other side, Americans find a progressive tax policy very acceptable. For each one, please tell me if you think significantly cutting the funding for this program is totally acceptable, mostly acceptable, mostly unacceptable, or totally unacceptable as a way to help reduce the federal deficit. NBC News/WSJ, February 2011
A message focused on using job creation and specific investments as the way to get the deficit under control beats the Republican-focused deficit message. [Invest for jobs and deficit reduction] While reducing the deficit is important, creating jobs and growing the economy should be our first priority. The best way to get our deficits under control is to put our economy back on track. That requires investment in areas vital to our economy like education, modern infrastructure, research and technology, and a clear plan to make things in America once more. Critical investments in our future cannot be sacrificed to austerity and budget cuts. [Deficit reduction overriding priority] We need to take serious steps now to cut spending and reduce the nation's crushing debt, or our country will not be able to compete and we will be unable to grow our economy and create jobs. The Deficit Commission's proposal takes reasonable steps to cut red tape, eliminate excess spending, and simplify our tax system. The commission would focus benefits on those who need them and ensure that the benefits will be available in the future. Now I'm going to read you some pairs of statements. After I read each pair, please tell me whether the FIRST statement or the SECOND statement comes closer to your own view, even if neither is exactly right. Campaign for America’s Future/Dcorps, January 2011
Celinda Lake [email_address] www.twitter.com/celindalake www.facebook.com/celindalake Washington, DC | Berkeley, CA | New York, NY LakeResearch.com 202.776.9066