Are Republicans winning the deficit debate?
posted at 2:15 pm on April 26, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Who’s winning the budget battle in the hearts and minds of the electorate? After round one, a new USA Today/Gallup survey shows that Rep. Paul Ryan is holding his own against Barack Obama in support for specific plans. On trust to handle the deficit issue, the GOP is scoring big:
A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that House Republicans, who took a political risk in passing a controversial budget blueprint last week, have survived so far with some key advantages intact as Congress moves toward the debate on raising the debt ceiling, passing the 2012 budget and enacting a long-term deficit plan.
Americans are evenly divided between the deficit plan proposed by President Obama and the one drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, and those surveyed put more trust in Republicans than Democrats to handle the federal budget and the economy.
One of the most significant takeaways is that Republicans have defined the debate as a spending problem. The poll shows that by a 3-1 margin, voters see the deficit as an issue of unrestrained spending rather than a lack of revenue. Almost half of respondents want the issue addressed through cuts alone, 48%, while only 11% want tax hikes only and 37% want a mixture of the two. The GOP leads Democrats by 12 points on budget management, as well as on the economy by 5 points.
This makes it clear that Obama failed to move the needle with his demagogic attack on Paul Ryan. USA Today’s Susan Page doesn’t break down the partisan breakdown on those questions, but clearly Obama’s approach of promising ambiguous cuts combined with class-warfare tax hikes didn’t sway anyone two weeks ago. Nor did Obama succeed in making Ryan look radical. Obama also has a bigger problem than Ryan, whose detailed budget plan has already been presented. Obama’s “plan” consists at the moment of vague generalities, and when Obama has to offer details, the popularity of his plan is likely to drop even further.
Ryan has to be rather pleased with the level of support he gets in this survey, especially since the types of changes he makes generates opposition when broken out individually. Luckily, the approach laid out by the President fares even worse, with 71% worried that it doesn’t go far enough in addressing the issue, and almost two-thirds (62%) believing it to be an excuse to raise taxes.
The Obama Budget (Plan A) and the Obama Budget (Plan B) have both failed, as well as Obama’s demagoguery. How long before the White House claims another mulligan on FY2012?