Poll shows Americans getting more pessimistic on economy, want spending cuts

And in other news, water is wet.  Anyone paying attention to the polls will not see any significant change over the last few months.  Voters don’t want new taxes, and they are more worried now than last year about economic retreat:

Forty-six percent of voters say they feel worse off than they did a year ago, almost three times as many as the 16 percent who feel more affluent. Around one-third of voters — 36 percent — say their economic situation has remained essentially unchanged from 12 months ago. …

Voters don’t want to see taxes increased in response to the growing fiscal pressures facing the nation, the poll also indicated. Instead, they prefer significant cuts to government spending as a remedy.

Presented with a menu of choices to help curb the national debt and federal deficit, almost half of voters — 45 percent — support spending cuts alone, the poll indicates. By contrast, only 13 percent favor an even split between cutting spending and raising revenue through tax increases.

By a margin of two-to-one, respondents also said they would be unwilling to see any increase in their own tax rates even if this helped reduce the debt and deficits. Only 28 percent said they would be prepared to pay higher taxes, while 56 percent said they would not.

In fact, respondents narrowly support lowering taxes as a stimulus, 45/39.  The poll splits evenly between Democrats and Republicans on which party gets more trust on economic policy, but that won’t last long if Democrats put forth a tax-hike budget plan, especially along the lines of the Senate’s notion of 50/50 deficit reduction between spending cuts and tax hikes.  Only 13% of respondents backed that notion, with another 11% supporting a 2/1 split for spending cuts to tax hikes, and 15% for a 3/1 split.

Boehner declaring tax hikes “off the table” is a politically strong position for Republicans to take.  In the fight over the debt limit, the national mood for spending cuts will force Democrats to give a lot of ground to the GOP if they want a raise in the debt ceiling.  That will still depend on GOP courage to fight for the best deal they can cut.  Having declared tax hikes off the table, Boehner has to be careful to avoid a “read my lips” moment in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, Gallup’s latest poll shows that economic pessimism is accelerating:

Three in four Americans name some type of economic issue as the “most important problem” facing the country today — the highest net mentions of the economy in two years. …

General economic concerns (35%) and unemployment (22%) are the specific issues currently at the forefront of Americans’ minds. The percentage mentioning the economy in general is up significantly from 26% in April, while unemployment is up just slightly from 19%.

Twelve percent of Americans mention the federal budget deficit or federal debt as the nation’s most important problem, down from 17% in April, although still high on a historical basis. The April reading was the highest Gallup found since 1996.

The highest non-economic concern garnered all of 8%, tied for second-to-last among economic concerns, and that was dissatisfaction with the current political class — which is likely to have been aggravated by the poor economic performance.  The next one down was health care at 5%, tied for dead last among economic concerns with “lack of money.”  Interestingly but not surprisingly, there isn’t a single environmental concern on the list, and the wars are tied for last at 4%.

When America goes to the polls in 2012, the economy will decide the election — and right now, that’s very bad news for Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress.

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