The message coming from Americans despite our federal government’s fiscal problems and all the noise coming from Washington about how to bring down spending is that the public do not want their entitlements touched. This is the finding of a poll reported in the Washington Post on April 20.
According to the article the poll finds that most Americans want to keep Medicare just the way it is, and do not support cuts in Medicaid or the defense budget either. The only idea out there that enjoys solid public support, the poll found, is President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While that is a politically popular idea, everyone seems to acknowledge that at best it would only make a small dent in the trillions of dollars national deficit.
This same poll found that 58% disapprove of how Obama is handling the budget deficit. But, it is even worse for Republicans in Congress – 64% disapprove how they want to deal with it.
We are hearing a lot these days about the need for shared sacrifice in order to address the burgeoning federal deficit. This poll shows that the public is not even close to ready to consider that. Cut the other guy’s benefits and services – maybe – but mine? No way!
It appears the public, just like its elected representatives, does not really know what to do to effectively deal with the federal deficit. Making other people pay for it – such as those labeled rich – is o.k., but that won’t do the job.
Perhaps the answer the public would support is to create a federal program called Somewhere Else. Then apply all necessary budget cuts to that program alone. This would probably be a popular approach, but of course it would do no good. The “we want our cake and eat it too” philosophy that permeates our society remains strong.
We have a fiscal conundrum on our hands, and until some kind of consensus can be developed we as a people do not want to grasp the wide-ranging and painful solutions that appear necessary. Is it any wonder then why our politicians, when dealing with government budget matters, act like they do?