• If it was easy, everyone would do it

    I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of all the polls that show that people want spending cuts, but not to any programs or anything.  Take this, for instance, from Jason Kusnicki:

    When it comes time to balance the budget, majorities want:

    • To cut Social Security for the wealthy. But no cuts to Social Security.
    • To raise the retirement age to 69. But again, no cuts to Social Security.
    • To cut Medicare for the wealthy. But no cuts to Medicare.
    • Don’t cut education, either. Instead, cut federal subsidies to the states. (These are in large part subsidies for education and Medicare, with some infrastructure too. Any guesses on whether the public wants to cut infrastructure?)

    Obviously, the third one interests me the most, but they are all the same.

    Why are we surprised by this?  Why do we keep acting as if it’s news? Why do we listen?

    This is human nature. The elderly want social security and Medicare untouched. The Midwest wants the farm subsidies untouched. I want the NIH budget untouched. Others want their stuff untouched.

    That’s fine. That’s the way it should be. So when you cut something, you will upset someone. That’s how it goes. But when it’s clear that Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Defense, and interest on the debt already total about what we bring in through revenue, not addressing those things is silly.

    The people we elect have to make difficult choices. Those choices may make those people unpopular. Some of them may lose their jobs. Deal with it. They chose this; they wanted the responsibility. I’m tired of politicians who think we can balance the budget without either raising taxes or addressing the core components of our spending.

    It’s their fault, not human nature. I’d appreciate more focus on them and less on these polls.

    • Good post. That’s why polls of this nature are worthless, because they don’t present the difficult choices that you describe. This is another way that news organizations (right and left) shape polls to fit a political narrative. I’d like to see a poll where they force respondents to cut one or more programs, or choose between one or more policy initiatives, and see what people say.

    • I haven’t seen the nonsense poll results cited above but in the last few days a new poll (WSJ/NBC) has come out.

      First. Most people said that jobs were the first priority, not the deficit.

      However, when asked what people would do to balance the budget it included:
      – increase tax on rich people
      – eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies
      – eliminate “earmarks”
      – cut defense spending

      The poll also said that people didn’t want cuts to education, medicaid, medicare and social security.

      This seems to make sense.
      However, the Republicans don’t have this same agenda and seem to be tone deaf to what people say they want. They risk a backlash when they try to cut education, medicaid, social security and also popular social programs.

    • I often look at the reporting on such polls and say sure if you ask me what I want, I would say I want to have my cake and eat it too. That is not illogical it is only illogical to expect it to happen. Also most people do not know what the money is spent on so they may honestly think that reducing bureaucracy will yield huge savings.