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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Has the Public Been Studying the Budget In Large Numbers?

Has the Public Been Studying the Budget In Large Numbers?

Sunday, 09 May 2010 20:26

The NYT tells us that there is "heightened public concern over spending." How does the NYT know this? What does it mean? Has the public checked the amount that we are spending in Afghanistan? Has it noted the cost of government payments to first-time homebuyers?

Does the public know that -- according to the methodology used by President Obama's administration -- each billion reduction in spending will lead to the loss of roughly 10,000 jobs? Therefore, according to the Obama administration's assessment, when Democrats in Congress claim that they are cutting spending (as claimed by Representative Chris Van Hollen in this blog post) they are making plans to throw people out of work.

It would be helpful if the NYT devoted more space to the meaning of policies rather than gossip about who says what.

Comments (5)Add Comment
Poll results
written by AndrewDover, May 10, 2010 9:35

For each of the following, please indicate how much threat the situation poses to economic
performance in the U.S. over the next two years. (Rotate list.)
High Threat, Medium Threat, Low Threat, Not Sure

A. Persistently high unemployment 81 16 3 -
B. Chronically high budget deficits 70 23 5 2
C. Expansion of the government’s role in the economy 55 25 17 3
D. Trade barriers or tariffs 34 40 19 7
E. Higher taxes 58 25 16 1
F. Limits on carbon emissions to combat global warming 22 30 43

I’m going to mention some things the government could do to cut the budget deficit. For each,
please tell me if you think this should or should not be a main part of any government approach to
the deficit—just answer yes or no. (Read list. Rotate. Multiple responses accepted, so total may
exceed 100%.) Sorted.

66 Raise income taxes on the wealthy—individuals making $500,000 or more and households
making $1 million or more
57 Cut discretionary federal programs and services by 5% across the board
26 Raise taxes on the middle-class as well as the wealthy
23 Cut the growth of spending on entitlement programs such as Social
Security benefits
20 Create a new federal consumption tax, which would be like a federal sales tax that would be on
top of any state and local sales tax.
5 None of these/not sure (VOL)

Is anyone surprised?
written by Queen of Sheba, May 10, 2010 11:57
"The public" also believes that the government's budget can be brought into balance by eliminating foreign aid and waste, fraud and abuse in government programs.

Lately "the public" has been convinced that the country can become energy independent by drilling more oil wells off our shores and that the current recession was caused by poor people wanting to buy $300,000 homes, too.

It's not difficult to convince "the public" that any wild-eyed theory is true if the theory is repeated often enough, especially on teevee, and if there are enough "experts" with money, education and power (and the requisite amount of both gravitas and dire predictions) being given a microphone to make the case.

Rationality is terminally ill, and nuance is dead.
Where is the Queen's poll ?
written by AndrewDover, May 10, 2010 12:40
Please back up those assertions with some evidence.
guns or butter
written by frankenduf, May 10, 2010 1:37
yo AndrewDover- where the bejeez is the war chest in that poll?!- that is what shocks me- we can drop a cool trill in bombing various brown peoples and it doesn't even show up as option q in that pollster's alphabet!?- talk about beyond the pale...
written by AndrewDover, May 10, 2010 5:53
I also thought the omission of military spending was strange in that poll. Refs to other polls which do:

"A June, 2009 Pew Research poll asked Americans what they would do about defense spending, and 55% said they would either decrease it (18%) or keep it the same (37%); only 40% wanted it to increase."

It puzzles me what the 40% who favor increasing military spending think we will get for the money. Did it deter Russia from invading Georgia?

Meanwhile, $145 billion has gone into Fannie/Freddie: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05...tml?ref=us

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.