To Create Jobs, Voters Want to Cut While Washington Wants to Spend
A Commentary By Scott Rasmussen
Friday, March 16, 2012
One of the fundamental gaps between the American people and their elected politicians can be found in perceptions of the relationship between economic growth, job creation and government spending.
In official Washington, Keynesian economics still rules, and it is simply accepted as fact that cutting government spending will hurt the economy. Politicians also assume that increasing government spending and growing deficits will lead to job creation.
However, among the voting public, such notions make about as much sense as the world Alice stumbled into when she went through the looking glass. Most voters (55 percent) believe that cutting government spending is good for the economy. Only 25 percent share the view of official Washington and believe spending cuts hurt the economy. Just 11 percent think larger deficits will lead to good economic news. These numbers have changed little since I first began asking the questions in the mid-1990s.
America's political class may be Keynesians, but America's voters are not. Just 27 percent believe that government efforts to manage the economy actually help the economy.
Two out of three voters believe job creation and economic growth are more likely to come from business leaders pursuing their own self interest rather than from decisions made by government officials to help the economy.
This gap can be seen again and again in polling on the issues of the day. During the final months of election 2010, President Obama took the Washington approach to job creation and proposed a $50 billion federal jobs program. However, 61 percent of voters thought that cutting government spending and deficits would do more to create jobs than the president's spending program. Just 28 percent thought the president's spending plan was a better way to go.
An especially revealing look at voters' perceptions can be found when we ask whether people are worried that the government will do too much or too little to try to help the economy. Not surprisingly, most people typically worry that the government will try to do too much.
But the really interesting part comes from a closer look at the views of those who fear the government will not do enough. When asked what more they would like the government to do, most say they'd like to see spending cuts and deficit reduction. Remember, that's the response from people who want the government to do more.
This understanding is one reason why so much of what passes for policy debate in Washington fails to connect with voters. The Washington perspective sees the government as the center of the national economy. Most Americans see the ever-rising cost of government as a burden for the economy to overcome.
The Washington perspective leads political insiders to believe that fiscal policy decisions must carefully weigh trade-offs between spending cuts and economic growth, deficit reduction and job creation. Most voters see spending cuts as a natural component of any serious plan to create jobs.
To connect with voters, those who hope to become political leaders will have to break with the Washington orthodoxy. A candidate who says job creation is the goal and spending cuts is the way to get there will be considered a laughing stock in Washington, but he or she will be right on target as far as the American people are concerned.
COPYRIGHT 2012 SCOTT RASMUSSEN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
See Other Political Commentaries.
See Other Commentaries by Scott Rasmussen
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection,
publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events
in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence,
we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions,
sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics
provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day.
If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a
daily update newsletter,
the Rasmussen Report on radio
and other media outlets.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll
and commentaries are available for free to the general public.
Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year
that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on Election 2012,
consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers,
Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs
and a full history of our data.
president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.