Governing By Polls
Former President Bill Clinton perfected “triangulation”, a process of launching a policy idea as a trial balloon, polling to determine its public’s acceptance, and then adjusting the trial ballon, and repeating the process until public acceptance reaches a desired level. Then, and only then, Bill Clinton took a public position. Democrats and Republicans both seem to be attempting to play that cleaver but gutless game with sequestration.
The sequestration measures rapidly approaching would chop about $100 billion off the budget ($1 trillion over 10 years). Democrats are now bemoaning the law and seeking to change it to make it less onerous. Less onerous to Democrats means less spending cuts and more taxes. Republicans want to see no new taxes and no cuts to defense spending. In the best of circumstances, spending cuts, for Republicans, would be all in entitlements. The current sequestration law gives neither Democrats or Republicans what they want.
This is white knuckles time.
Each side is sure they have the public’s preference on their side. How do they know that? Bingo, the polls.
There is little evidence that Democrats or Republicans see a greater picture. Cutting a trillion dollars from the budget (the size of our yearly deficit) could have major consequences. It has to mean increased unemployment (at least temporarily). Unemployment could compound itself into a recession and only time would tell for how long.
While cuts to general spending as well as defense spending are almost certainly a good idea, how much and over what time period is not clear. Raising some new tax revenues is also wise, but how much and from whom is unclear. Ignoring entitlements, however, overlooks the main driver of the deficit. And within entitlements, it is health care that must be tackled. Do the math.
The interesting things about polls is that their answers depend on what questions you ask and who you ask. Long term solutions for our chronic deficit problem do not seem to be among the question being asked.
Even more to the point, I wonder whether the younger generations who must pay for the debt are in the polling population?
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