While collective deficit hysteria fully grips Washington, what the American people really care about is jobs and the economy. According to a new CBS News poll, 38 percent of Americans think the most important problem facing our country is the economy and jobs. Second is the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at seven percent. Health care comes in third at about six percent, and all the way back in fourth place, with a mere five percent, is the budget deficit and national debt.
I have said it before, but since members of Congress are descending into highly destructive deficit insanity, it needs to be said again. The American people don’t really care about the deficit. They consider it to be an issue that should eventually get addressed but is a low priority right now. As common sense would dictate, with almost 10 percent official unemployment and a serious problem of long-term unemployment, what the American people care about is jobs.
When the poll specifically asked people for the most important economic problem facing the country, the top response, again at 38 percent, was jobs and unemployment. That number is even slightly higher when you consider that three percent chose the issue of jobs going overseas. The collective topic of budget, national debt and government spending was the top priority for only 10 percent of the country.
For Washington politicians to obsess about the deficit at the expense of job creation and protection is clearly not what most Americans want their leaders to do. Doing the opposite of what the voters want is an even worse political move, considering that increasing average real disposable income is a significant predictor of how well the incumbent party will do in the next election. So, refusing to extend unemployment insurance, continue COBRA subsidies and provide aid to local governments to prevent massive teacher layoffs right before an election is a bad move for the party in power. It is even worse because the main excuse given for the focus on the deficit, bond vigilantes, is nothing more than a Washington, DC fever dream with no basis in reality. The cost of American borrowing is still much lower than even a few years ago.
So, this deficit hysteria is not only misguided policy and morally cruel but also extremely bad politics. The pollsters and political advisers who have convinced Democrats to focus on the issue at the expense of aiding regular Americans are either secretly trying to destroy the party or are incompetent. Either way, they should have been fired yesterday.