Friday, January 21, 2011

Times Poll Shows Our Big Problems

The NY Times/CBS poll data that came out yesterday shows the frightening problem we are going to have as we attempt to keep our national debt from turning us into Greece. As the Times excellent Econ reporter David Leonhardt points out in this story from the paper's Economix Blog, we have a disconnect between the results we want, and what we are willing to do to get them. A couple of quick quotes( I recommend you read the whole story):

In truth, the coming deficits are a result, above all, of the fact that most Americans are scheduled to receive far more in Medicare benefits than they have paid in Medicare taxes. Conservative and liberal economists agree on this point. After Medicare on the list of big, growing budget items come Social Security and the military.

The three programs are roughly as popular as tax increases are unpopular – which is precisely why solving the deficit problem will be so difficult.

Herein lies the political problem. We want to cut spending. We just don’t want to cut the benefits that the spending pays for.

Those polled, in general, preferred reducing the deficit by cutting spending versus raising taxes, and a depressing 56% thought it would be possible to fix the problem without raising taxes, disagreeing with most who have seriously studied the problem. And given the choice of cutting Social Security, Medicare or Military spending, the military comes out as the big loser, with 56% saying to cut it first. (Looks like Socialism had already won out as the predominant ideology in America! Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will be driven even crazier, if that is possible.) So, folks want to cut the deficit, but they don't want taxes raised, and they don't want benefits cut.

The real problem is that politicians, who generally just care about getting elected, don't want to tell anyone this. You didn't hear the GOP talk about cutting Medicare or Social Security in their recent electoral victory. Instead, they lied about cuts to Medicare in the new health care legislation. And you won't hear the Dems talk about it either. So, down the road to ruin we coast, with no steering wheel and no competent driver. Cutting earmarks and other pork-barrel spending is a great idea, but it won't balance the budget. Not even close. And the idiots in Congress don't even have the guts to bring up wasteful and stupid things like farm subsidies, let alone the big entitlements.

I'll stop ranting now, because this is all just too depressing, and I see very little hope for solving this problem before it becomes a crisis.

You can see a nice presentation of some of this data HERE.

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