A poll from Bloomberg today shows a path for Democrats to recapture the populist mantle – by spending on jobs and taxing wealth. Yes, the poll shows that “tax and spend” is the policy favored by the majority right now, to get us out of the economic downturn.
However, the poll shows that people also want cuts to the federal budget deficit, a persistent data point that often recedes when the economy improves. “Deficit” is often seen in the public as a placeholder for “economy.” You can see that by the fact that more people are concerned about jobs than the deficit.
Americans want their government to create jobs through spending on public works, investments in alternative energy or skills training for the jobless […]
While the public sees both unemployment and the deficit as a threat, anxiety over unemployment is higher. Eight out of 10 poll respondents rate unemployment a high risk to the economy in the next two years and 7 of 10 say the same about the deficit.
The poll contains some of the features Obama announced in his jobs plan. Two-thirds of Americans back boosting spending on infrastructure. Six of 10 also support more spending on alternative energy to stimulate job growth, another measure Obama announced.
Around 50% of Republicans favored increasing taxes on the wealthy.
The most important part of this poll lies in finding jobs solutions that WORK. A too-small Goldilocks plan (not too hot, not too cool) would be about the worst idea politically, as it would tip people in favor of the deficit as the source of the problem instead of the inadequacy of the jobs programs. Liberals are already starting to criticize the Obama plan on job creation, and that’s a good thing. In particular, lawmakers in African-American communities hit hard by the crisis are asserting themselves.
Jobless claims are still too high to sustain growth. Public spending must fill in the shortfall in demand. But if it’s not going to really reduce unemployment, it’s almost not worth doing.
(A programming note: expect a Roundup later than normal tonight)