Finally, a confused consensus on deficit talks: Both Yes and No on both spending cuts and tax hikes
No wonder those clowns in D.C. can't find some kind of deficit consensus. They're listening to confused American voters speak through polls.
It's like driving a van filled with all your in-laws, each offering simultaneous advice on different restaurants and how to get there.
Americans have spoken loudly and clearly in recent days that they are increasingly worried about this administration spending way more money than it takes in. Somehow getting control of federal spending and the $14.2 trillion national debt that's grown 35% while President Obama was not creating enough new jobs to rescue the economy is Job #1, voters say, except for creating millions of new jobs and getting the economy going again.
The public says it favors increasing taxes on someone else to pay for everything. Also voters are 100% in support of spending cuts, unless they might somehow affect them or someone they know now or any conceivable time in the future.
And Americans know precisely who to blame if a budget deal is not done by the all-important, drop-dead, world-ending Aug. 2 deadline, which used to be in April but Treasury Secy. Geithner changed it:
Voters will blame the Democrats who've been running the Senate since 2007 and the White House since Obama arrived with his mother-in-law back in 2009 and began playing an awful lot of golf and flying Air Force One to fundraisers.
Unless, those voters blame conniving Republicans in Congress who have this outrageous plan to terminate the Obama era next year, as if they were the alternate political party.
Here's just a selection of the varying messages those swamp people can read:
Nearly 80% of Americans worry about raising the debt limit, 75% worry about not raising it and a majority suspect that raising it will only prompt more out-of-control spending.
Four-in-ten Americans told the Pew Research Center that an economic crisis looms if the debt limit isn't raised by Aug. 2, while 39% say nah, Aug. 2 can come and go with no major problems.
A majority of Americans (52%) say it's dangerous to raise the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts, while an even larger percentage (55%) say tax hikes should not be part of the total package.
According to Gallup, the Obama-Geithner debt-raising team faces significant opposition among news consumers. Another majority (53%) want their member in Congress to vote No on raising the debt limit.
Another group told Gallup the deficit problem should be addressed only or mostly by spending cuts (50%). A pack of loonies (11%) said the problem should be addressed only or mostly with tax increases. And less than a third (32%) thought equal cuts and hikes could handle it.
Fully 80% of Americans say they are dissatisfied or even steamed at the way the federal government is not working these days. That's a 19-year high and up 11 points in just one month.
Majorities blame Obama and congressional Republicans for intransigence in working out a budget deal. For the first time approval of Obama's handling or mishandling of the economy has fallen beneath 40% while approval of his deficit-stimulation is 38%, while the GOP's deficit approach gets only 27% approval.
On the other hand, a hypothetical presidential election now between any no-name Republican challenger and a Democratic incumbent named Obama produces a GOP victory, 47-39.
Perhaps none of these splits should surprise anyone in mid-summer of 2011: Fully 23% of Americans recently asserted to Rasmussen Reports that vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream. Another 23% claimed it's actually chocolate. Geithner has set no deadline for resolving this one.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Times illustration by Andrew Malcolm; Larry Downing / Reuters (Obama).