The media and government debate about economic policy inside the Washington Beltway is dominated by politicians, featured “experts” and advocates who assume that federal deficits are the most important problem facing the American people. And within this bubble, it seems that the obvious solution to this deficit problem is a limited range of policies that focus primarily on spending cuts: on funding for education, for low-income people, for the environment and on that narrow range of public expenditures known as discretionary spending.
This conventional wisdom also holds that it is imperative that we take on “entitlements” – cutting spending and “restructuring” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Conservatives have even threatened to crash the American economy by refusing to raise the federal debt limit unless this kind of radical austerity program is imposed on the U.S. government.
The advocates of this kind of approach to economic policy argue that it is strongly supported by the American people. But what do the majority of Americans really favor?
Almost daily, major polling organizations ask the American people what they think on all of these proposals through scientifically rigorous national polls. The American Majority project reviews the available recent polling and finds a big difference between the economic policy solutions discussed by the media and policymakers and what the majority of average citizens would like to see from their leaders.
What does this American majority think should be done to Social Security? Do Americans want to raise the Social Security eligibility age, reduce benefits, or raise Social Security taxes?
We also look at available data on public attitudes about:
- Medicare, including polling on proposed spending cuts, the Republican plan to turn the program into a voucher system, and increased taxes on beneficiaries;
- Medicaid, including public opinion on such issues as converting the program into a block grant in order to drive spending down, and covering health care costs for low-income children;
- Taxes, including views on taxing millionaires and billionaires, eliminating oil company and other corporate tax breaks, and ending the Bush-era tax cuts;
- Budget savings, highlighting the public’s support for bringing troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and cutting the Pentagon’s budget.
Recently conservative legislators and governors have also suggested that America’s national and local deficit problem could be helped by weakening unions. So we look at recent polls on union employees and collective bargaining rights that measure support for the rights of public and private employees to unionize to negotiate with their employers.
Finally, we look at job creation and the economy, and present information on what the majority of Americans believe the role of government should be in creating jobs and getting the economy working again.
On the polling page you will find links to the individual polls we cite, as well as a full list of polls and details. On the experts page, we list economists, academics and organization leaders who support the sensible majority position on many of these issues and are qualified to represent those positions in the media or other forums. The viewpoints page is regularly updated with commentary and analysis from OurFuture.org’s writers and other sources.