Gallup is out with a poll today on political reform. Here are the results:
Obviously, a national referenda isn’t going to happen. But if we did, it would clearly show that the vision most Americans have for their government is not realistic.
For instance, a Pew poll in February found that 70% of Americans, including 65% of Democrats, wanted the President and Congress to act on deficit-cutting legislation this year. But another Pew poll released just a day (PDF) later found that Americans don’t want to cut any individual programs except foreign aid (to the right).
Of course, it’s not that surprising that no one wants to cut any of those programs. They all sound very useful. But how are we going to reduce the deficit – as voters say they want – if we don’t cut anything. Well, how about we raise taxes? I’m very confident in saying that if we put tax increases up for a national referenda, it would lose badly.
Here we get to an impasse. Voters don’t want to cut individual programs, don’t want higher taxes but want to reduce the deficit. Those three things together are not possible. In the mean time, voters get angry when spending cuts pass (they don’t like the sequester), hate higher taxes (remember how hard it was to raise taxes on the richest Americans?) and are demanding cuts to the budget deficit. One party demands spending cuts, the other wants higher taxes and both clamor about the budget deficit. This all stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the capabilities of the US government.
Maybe a national referenda is just what we need – at least then Americans would have a better understand of what its government can and cannot do.