Poll: Voters favor balance in cutting deficit

Nearly half of all voters favor an approach to deficit reduction that combines spending cuts and tax hikes, according to a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll.

Twenty percent of respondents said they would like any deficit reduction package to rely “about three-fourths on spending cuts and one-fourth on tax increases,” while another 26 percent said proposals should rely “equally on spending cuts and tax increases.”

The president would like us to believe the proposals he unveiled yesterday — which called for $1.5 trillion in tax hikes — take the sort of balanced approach the American people would like to see. And by pledging to veto any deficit reduction package that doesn’t include tax increases, he’s done all he can to make Republicans — who are transparent about their opposition to higher taxes — appear intransigent and lopsided in their approach to deficit reduction.

But, unfortunately for the president, his plan is as unbalanced as it could be. As I alluded to yesterday, GOP analysts for the Senate Budget Committee have come out with some pretty important research regarding the president’s plan. Essentially, the data shows the president’s deficit proposals will not cut spending by one penny. That fact is not surprising, but it is the essential corrective for the president’s poisonous professions of “balance” — professions unwitting voters might otherwise swallow. More from the Senate Budget Committee GOP:

[Yesterday], the president finally provided a fiscal plan on paper that reflects his latest vision for the country. Relative to the administration’s current policy baseline, the president claims his plan would increase the fiscal year 2012 deficit by $300 billion but reduce deficits over the next 10 years by $3.2 trillion.

However, this claim is overstated by $1.8 trillion because of three gimmicks: (1) taking credit for savings from a reduction in war spending that all parties agree will occur, (2) hiding spending for the annual Medicare “Doc Fix” that should be offset, and (3) counting interest savings as spending reduction even though debt service savings are not a policy.

Properly accounting for the effect of the president’s proposed policy changes, the actual amount of net deficit reduction proposed by the president is $1.409 trillion, consisting of $146 billion in spending increases and $1.555 trillion in tax increases.

So, what’s the popular support for a deficit reduction plan that’s all tax hikes and no spending cuts? The lowest it could possibly be. Just 16 percent favor “relying mostly on tax increases with smaller spending cuts.” Republicans might not have majority support for their spending-cuts-only approach, but they have more support than that: 28 percent are OK with just spending cuts.

Given the SBC GOP’s analysis, National Journal’s reporting of its own poll is a bit misleading. This is how writer Matthew Cooper spins the results:

When asked if the congressional super committee that is charged with recommending at least $1.2 trillion in reductions from the deficit should rely “entirely on spending cuts without any tax increases,” only 28 percent of voters said yes, according to the new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. The cuts-only position is basically the one offered by the Republican leadership in Congress and by the candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Congressional Democrats and President Obama have offered what they call a “balanced approach” of tax hikes and spending cuts to reduce the federal deficit, and voters overwhelmingly favored such an approach, albeit to varying degrees. When he unveiled his deficit-reduction plan on Monday, the president insisted that tax hikes be a part of any deficit solution. That would seem to be in sync with voters. “Relying about three-fourths on spending cuts and one-fourth on tax increases” was the choice of 20 percent of respondents.

The president’s rhetoric might “be in sync with voters,” but his actual plan is not. But that’s how it’s been from Day 1 with this president. If reality matched his words, we’d be sitting pretty. But, unfortunately, right now, reality is ugly and the president just wants to apply more of the same garish make-up in a futile attempt to hide the underlying flaws.