Deal's hype falls short
In Washington, many are celebrating the deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Some, like The Washington Post, are hailing the “strong bipartisan votes (on) a big, contentious issue.”
Outside of Washington, however, the reviews aren't nearly as glowing.
Forty-six percent of voters nationwide approve of the deal, while the identical number disapprove. And the results are very partisan. Seventy percent of Democrats approve, while 67 percent of Republicans disapprove. Among those not affiliated with either party, most (57 percent) disapprove.
There also are indications that perceptions of the deal could quickly become more negative.
Only half of all voters now believe that middle-class taxes will be heading up in 2013. The reality is that payroll taxes are going up. A middle-class worker earning $50,000 a year will pay $1,000 more in taxes. Those who earn more will pay more. The evidence will be visible in everyone's first paycheck of 2013.
The reality of a tax hike stands in stark contrast to the political rhetoric of the past month. Every politician from the president to rank-and-file members of Congress has said that the deal would mean higher taxes for upper-income Americans but that a middle-class tax hike would be avoided.
That contrast certainly will not help the credibility of our elected politicians or the federal government. The good news for the political class is that expectations were very low.
Since Election Day, a solid majority of voters has favored a “balanced approach” to cutting the deficit that includes both tax hikes and spending cuts. Most voters wanted the deal to include more on the spending-cut side, but they understood that official Washington has different priorities. From the beginning, voters expected that, despite their preference, any deal would include more tax hikes than spending cuts.
Heading into the final days of 2012, just 5 percent of voters believed Congress is doing a good or an excellent job. There's not much room for that rating to fall further, but the gap between rhetoric and reality on tax hikes might be enough to further damage congressional approval ratings.
The president's approval ratings are sky-high at the moment, largely because he did accomplish his goal of raising taxes on upper-income Americans. That was viewed by voters as a matter of fairness rather than economic policy. With that victory behind him, Obama will now face the more challenging task of dealing with the reality of ongoing federal spending that dwarfs any conceivable level of potential tax revenue.
That's the biggest reason perceptions of the “fiscal cliff” deal are likely to get worse. The hype was huge, but the reality was much more modest. There was never any serious deficit reduction on the table.
During the “fiscal cliff” debacle, political parties made it clear that they are more interested in protecting their favored interest groups. Republicans say everything should be cut except defense. Only 26 percent of voters agree with that view. Democrats think entitlements should be off limits. Only 18 percent of voters agree.
As a result, compromise in Washington means agreeing to keep spending going up as it has for decades. The last time government spending went down in America was 1954. That's not the sort of compromise voters want.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Pittsburgh mayor Peduto goes ‘Undercover’ for CBS reality show
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Archery hunting in Mt. Lebanon called off for now
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Search for Duquesne University graduate Kochu continues
- Pittsburgh police doubling up on duty after potential threats
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Steelers-Bengals game to start at 8:30 p.m.