Two important polls came out this week showing Americans disagree with Republicans on the need for short-term spending cuts.
First, Gallup finds that only a small minority of Americans think the budget deficit a more important problem than jobs or the economy. Nicolas Mendoza explains:
A majority of Americans, fifty-five percent, have said that either the economy in general or unemployment in particular is the most important problem facing the country in 2011, according to an average of Gallup’s tracking poll results from January to May. Meanwhile, only thirteen percent of Americans have said that the federal budget deficit is the most important problem during a period where discussion of the deficit dominated the agenda in Washington.
Those who cited the deficit as the most important problem were more likely to be male, white and making over $75,000 a year. No more than one fifth of any of these demographics said that the deficit was the most important problem. Some groups have a startlingly low likelihood of caring most about the deficit; for example, only five percent of black Americans say that the deficit is the most important issue…
This shows that for all the handwringing in Washington about the deficit, Americans want to see full employment before we pivot to deficit reduction. Short-run spending cuts will increase unemployment.
A new Pew poll on the deficit found that the deficit reduction ideas Americans support come overwhelmingly from the Democratic side, and all the most unpopular ideas come overwhelmingly from the Republican side:
Now, I’m sure that if you polled another round of stimulus, that would also be very unpopular. But the fact is that with 9.1% unemployment and economic indicators increasingly flashing warning signs that the bottom is falling out of the recovery, the economy needs more stimulus from Congress and a higher inflation target from the Fed.
Elected Democrats should be looking at these poll numbers and asking themselves which is worse – a few weeks of bad news cycles because they popped the Beltway consensus on deficit hysteria, or a 10% unemployment rate come November 2012. It’s no contest. Right away, Obama should recess-appoint some Employment Hawks to the FOMC, and Treasury should use government-owned Fannie and Freddie to modify mortgages and clear the housing market.