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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 07/27/2011

Are progressives losing the larger argument?

As you know, I’ve been flogging away endlessly at the idea of a “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop,” in which politicans continue insisting that the deficit is the single most important problem facing the country, which persuades voters to worry more about the deficit, which in turn gets politicans to focus on it even more, to the point where job creation disappears from the conversation.

A number of you have asked me why this matters. Well, here’s why.

E.J. Dionne has now weighed in with a great post in which he endorses the concept, but more important, he finds polling evidence that it’s actually damaging the overall progressive cause, because the deficit obsession is actually turning people against the ideas that undergird progressive economics.

E.J. points to this new Pew poll, which asks respondents whether major spending cuts would help or hurt job creation. And guess what: There’s been a substantial swing in favor of the view that spending cuts will help create jobs.

The poll finds that 26 percent think major cuts in Federal spending will help job creation — up eight points since March. It also finds that a meager 27 percent accurately believe that major spending cuts will hurt job creation — down seven points from March. That’s a net swing of 15 points.

Needless to say, this swing in public opinion came during a several-month period that was entirely dominated by bipartisan agreement that the deficit is an epic crisis that must be dealt with immediately lest our way of life vanish into history.

E.J. notes that this is “insidious from the point of view of those who favor Keynesian or progressive economics,” and explains why this is terrible news for liberals:

Because the president and many Democrats have been complicit in making the deficit the centerpiece of the Washington conversation, they have left unanswered the Republican claim that cutting spending would help create jobs. That’s a view rejected even by economists who favor long-term deficit reduction. Yet Republicans and conservatives have clearly moved opinion toward the idea that spending cuts equal more jobs. It’s a case of political malpractice by progressive politicians, and another cost of that Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop.

Read E.J.’s whole post: He’s got this exactly right. Even if you think it’s good politics for Dems to be demonstrating concern about deficits and spending, the clear downside is that the progressive economic case has been entirely marginalized, to the point where it has vanished from the conversation entirely. Small wonder, then, that large numbers of people are gravitating towards the only argument they are hearing.

By  |  01:30 PM ET, 07/27/2011

 
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