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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 06/22/2011

Dems lost the argument over the deficit, because they never engaged it

In case you need further evidence that the Dem decision to effectively endorse the right’s austerity/cut-cut-cut frame is only harming themselves, check out the internals of the new Bloomberg News poll. They show that the public broadly agrees with Republican arguments about the deficit, spending cuts and what it takes to rebuild the “confidence” required for an economic rebound.

The key numbers:

* Fifty-five percent of Americans think that spending cuts and tax cuts will give businesses more confidence to hire. Only 17 percent think government should spend more to stimulate the economy, and only another 17 percent think we should maintain current spending levels.

* Sixty-five percent say that a major reason for the economy remaining in the toilet is because the large federal deficit makes the economy “unstable.”

* Fifty-two percent think a major reason for our economic doldrums is that “uncertainty” created by government regulations and taxes is harming hiring.

* Only 35 percent think a major reason for the economic doldrums is that spending cuts hurts jobs.

In other words, the public broadly believes in what Paul Krugman refers to as the “confidence fairy,” i.e., the notion that deficit cutting is an important component in restoring “economic confidence,” a notion that even the White House has endorsed. It also agrees with the GOP’s argument that excessive regulation and taxes create “uncertainty.”

Now, maybe you can see this as a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Maybe these numbers support the idea that there was never any percentage for Dems in making a real case for more stimulus and for deferring action on the deficit until unemployement came down. Maybe these numbers show that the public has internalized the idea taht government is a massive drag on the economy and can’t possibly create jobs — and that there’s no point in trying to change people’s minds. Maybe these numbers show that the best hope for Dems is to reach a deficit reduction deal and get this issue off the table before trying to manage some kind of pivot to jobs.

Or maybe the opposite is true. Dems, by effectively ceding the argument over the economy to Republicans and getting themselves caught in a Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop, only ensured that this entire battle would unfold entirely on the GOP’s rhetorical turf, leading Americans to except GOP doctrine as gospel.

Either way, the result of Dem conduct has been that Americans only got to hear one side of this argument, so it’s only natural if they agree with it.

UPDATE: Link to internals fixed.

By  |  12:01 PM ET, 06/22/2011

 
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