Barack Obama tried to claim ownership of the mighty middle in today’s press conference while casting opposition on both ends as extreme. In response to a question from Chuck Todd, Obama said that 80% of Americans support his “balanced approach” to deficit reduction and the debt-ceiling increase. But is this really true? Via RCP:
“The American people are sold,” President Obama said.
“The American people are sold, I just want to repeat that.”
“You have 80% of the American people who support a balanced approach. 80% of the American people support an approach that includes revenues and includes cuts. So the notion that somehow the American people aren’t sold is not the problem. The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically.”
Frankly, it appears that the problem is that members of the West Wing can’t do math. The latest national survey on the topic came from Gallup, which expressed some support for the “balanced” approach, but hardly showed 80% of Americans backing tax hikes — excuse me, “revenue increases.”
Americans’ preferences for deficit reduction clearly favor spending cuts to tax increases, but most Americans favor a mix of the two approaches. Twenty percent favor an approach that relies only on spending cuts and 4% favor an approach that uses tax increases alone.
That puts 76%, not 80%, somewhere in between the two points. But Gallup breaks this out more effectively:
- Only/Mostly with spending cuts: 50%
- Only/Mostly with tax increases: 11%
Only 32% prefer a balance between spending cuts and tax increases, which added to the bottom option would still tilt the public far more in favor of spending cuts, 50/43. Among independents — the most non-ideological group possible in this survey — it’s 51/41, a wider split. This is hardly a public that is “sold, sold!” on tax hikes.
And that’s just in the Gallup poll. Two months ago, The Hill conducted its own poll that showed opposition to tax hikes at 45%, with only 13% favoring an even split between tax hikes and spending cuts to solve the deficit problem, with another 11% supporting a 2/1 split for spending cuts to tax hikes, and 15% for a 3/1 split. Even under the most liberal (pun intended) definition of “balanced,” only 39% in that poll opted for the idea.
Obama has fallen very clearly out of step with the American public on spending and taxes, and the 80% remark just demonstrates his cluelessness.