Americans Scorn Conservative Stimulus Package

Robert Borosage

The Washington Post publishes a poll showing most Americans support the tax deal. No surprise: selling a tax cut doesn’t require a profile in courage. http://is.gd/iJ0n2

The poll provides two clear cautions to the leaders of both parties.

Remarkably, Americans oppose cutting Social Security payroll taxes by two percentage points for all workers – 57% to 39%, with 39% strongly opposed. This is the only real tax cut in the deal for most Americans. ( If you aren’t rich, the rest of the package simply extends current rates.) The message is clear: Americans in large numbers do not want politicians messing with Social Security, even to cut the payroll tax. We can only hope the White House gets the message.

Second, Americans are sensibly skeptical about the effect that this conservative tax cut stimulus will have on the economy. Asked whether they thought it would help or hurt the economy, 43% said it would make no difference, as opposed to 36% who said it might help (27% only somewhat) and 17% who said it might hurt.

This isn’t a sidebar. This is the basic concern of Americans. What will get the economy back on track, and start generating real jobs and growth? Americans are looking for a serious path out of the crisis – and they already scorn this conservative stimulus package as inadequate.

But the package, along with a rollback of regulation, is the entire conservative jobs program. We’ve tried it before under Bush. Congress passed the Bush tax cuts sold as a way to stimulate growth, and produced the worst job creation in the post-war period before the collapse, and a net of no jobs after it. Bush then offered up a tax cut stimulus to try to fend off the gathering recession in early 2008 and ended with the economy in free fall by the end of the year.

This package is too small and too skewed to the rich to make much difference. Americans are sensibly skeptical. The lachrymose, perpetually tanned John Boehner will be Speaker of the House in January. He and Mitch McConnell have had their way on a tax cut stimulus that they promise will produce jobs. Americans are already asking – where are the jobs?

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