It is very impressive that the deficit fear-mongers, led by people like Peter Peterson, David Walker and Alan Simpson, have managed to get all of Washington worked into a self-destructive frenzy over the issue of the federal debt. The debt simply is not the issue regular Americans care about right now.

Americans overwhelmingly rank jobs and the economy as the most important challenge facing this country, according to a new CBS News/“New York Times” poll. The disconnect between the Washington elites, who have been swept up in deficit hysteria, and the rest of the country couldn’t be more stark.


CBS News/NYT Poll
(PDF)
What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?

Economy/Jobs: 40
Oil Spill in Gulf: 13
Health Care: 5
Budget Deficit/Nat’l Debt: 5
War/Iraq/Afghanistan: 3
Immigration: 3
Moral Values/Family Values: 2
Misc. Foreign Affairs: 2
Misc. Government Issues: 2
Politicians/Government: 2
Other: 20
DK/NA: 3

The number for the economy and jobs dwarfs all others. The rise of the gulf explosion as a concern has led to a slight drop in the percentage of people ranking the economy as the top problem. Still, it’s a small reduction while we are in the middle of experiencing one of the greatest environmental disasters in the nation’s history.

On the other hand, the federal debt ties for third with just five percent, one in every twenty Americans. Even referring to it as tied for third makes it seem far more important to regular Americans than the poll indicates. All the other issues except the economy and the oil spill are in the single digits and separated only by the margin of error.

As Americans focus like lasers on jobs and turning around the economy, deficit hysteria has caused members of Congress to all but abandon legislation that could increase employment. This incredible disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country on our worst problem helps explain why only nine percent of Americans think most members of Congress deserve re-election.