NPR’s Frank James reports on two recent polls that cast doubt on the popularity of the Republicans’ position:
A new CBS News poll suggests that while none of the Washington political players gets the approval of a majority of voters for how policymakers are handling the debt-ceiling debate, congressional Republicans fare the worst.
The survey found only 21 percent of respondents approved of the actions of congressional Republicans while 71 percent disapproved.
That compares with President Obama’s approval-disapproval ratings of 43 percent versus 48 percent.
The CBS News survey lined up with a recent Gallup Poll that suggested that more voters support Obama’s position that deficit reduction be achieved through a combination of tax revenue boosts and spending cuts instead of just spending cuts alone, which is the current Republican position in the debt-discussions.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Bob Greenstein here explains the implications of the Republican “Cut, Cap, and Balance” proposal that the House will take up on Tuesday. He makes this key point about the degree to which spending would have to be constrained under the proposal (emphasis added):
The “Cut, Cap & Balance” measure cites three constitutional balanced-budget amendments (H.J. Res 1, S.J. Res 10, and H.J. Res 56) and states that Congress must approve one of them or a similar measure before the debt limit can be raised. All three of the cited proposals would require cuts deeper than those in the Ryan budget. All three measures would establish a constitutional requirement that total federal expenditures may not exceed 18 percent of GDP, and all three would essentially require that the budget be balanced within the coming decade.
In other words, this proposal makes the often-called “draconian” Ryan proposal look like bleeding-heart liberalism.
The Republicans fixate on the 18 percent spending ceiling because they think that’s the right level of revenues for the foreseeable future; after all, if it was good enough on average for the past 40 years, it must be good enough for the next 40 years. (Never mind that it wasn’t even “good enough”–i.e., “enough”–for the past 40 years.)
But if we really were to hold total spending to 18 percent of GDP and balance the budget, this would imply that more than 100 percent of deficit reduction would be coming from the spending side. Because as CBO reminds us (in their long-term budget outlook), under current law revenues are projected to rise to 21 percent of GDP in 10 years and 23 percent of GDP in 25 years. Even under CBO’s “alternative fiscal scenario” where current tax cuts are permanently extended (and deficit financed), revenues would still rise to slightly above 18 percent of GDP (18.4 percent) in 10 and 25 years. (See Table 1-2 on page 8 of their report.)
How large of a spending cut are we talking about? The same CBO table implies that relative to current law, spending in 25 years would have to be cut by over a third (from 27.4 percent of GDP down to 18 percent). And relative to current policy extended, spending in 25 years would have to be cut by nearly one half (from 33.9 percent of GDP down to 18 percent).
Do the Republicans really think this is a winning proposal to make to the American people–a cost we should all be willing to bear for the sake of continued and additional tax cuts? Even without the Republicans having spelled out how on earth cuts of this magnitude would materialize, Americans seem to already be saying “no.”