New Poll Finds Broad Support for Comprehensive Debt Plan

The Campaign to Fix the Debt has recently released the results of a new national telephone poll that found broad support for a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that includes tax reform, sequester replacement, and structural changes to Social Security and Medicare. The bipartisan poll was conducted by Anzalone-Liszt-Grove Research and Voter Consumer Research with 800 likely voters.

Voters clearly see the need for reform – the poll found that the budget deficit is tied with the economy as the number one issue for Congress to address.  This is a significant shift from a July CBS poll, which had the economy beating out the debt as a priority by 24 points.

Not surprisingly, respondents were initially resistant to Social Security and Medicare changes, with only 34 percent in favor of general entitlement reform in the abstract. But when the poll noted that any reforms would be phased in gradually, that support jumped to 55-35 percent. Entitlement reform as part of a comprehensive plan was even more popular -- 61 percent of voters responded favorably to entitlement reform alongside cuts to wasteful spending and increased revenue from closing tax loopholes.

The specific policies that could be included in a comprehensive deficit reduction plan all tested favorably.  Chained CPI, increasing the ages, means testing, and cost sharing reforms  polled with majority support in the context of including protections for low-income populations, cutting waste, and phasing reforms in gradually. Tax reform also polled very well, especially the idea of closing tax inefficient and unfair tax loopholes.

The chart below demonstrates the broad support for provisions that could be included in a "grand bargain" on fiscal issues.

This new poll is encouraging news as Congress prepares to begin the budget conference process. Lawmakers should heed this call from voters to enact a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that makes structural changes to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, overhauls or eliminates wasteful tax expenditures to promote fairness and simplicity, and replaces the across-the-board sequester cuts with more targeted reforms.

Stanley Drunkenmiller and Generational Stealing

  

I was formerly a huge supporter of fixing the debt, including Social Security reform that would cut benefits through adoption of the CPI change. 

  

However, when I saw Stanley Drunkenmiller's presentation to NYU and Bowdoin College, where he accused me and other Baby Boomer seniors of generational stealing, I changed my mind. 

 

No one wants to be demonized by a hedge fund billionaire. The Baby Boomers and other seniors played by the rules for forty years or more.

 

We can have the so-called Adult conversaion when the civilized adults show up. They do not include Stanley Drunkenmiller, or even Thomas Friedman. Both of them have set back the course of Fixing the Debt.

 

All seniors should be advised not to give an inch until we can have a civilized--non-demonizing--conversation. We are using social media to get this message out and feed it back to our Senators and Representatives.

 

I would love to know CFRB's position on Stanley Drunkenmiller.

 

Public Opinion, Debt and Deficits

While some of the public may understand the concern with debt and deficits in my opinion the majority do not. As someone that previously managed corporate budgets of over $500M and municipal budgets I believe understand the implications.

What the public really needs to understand is this:

If we do not get a better handle around our debt and deficits interest rates are more likely to go up sooner than later. Secondly, when interest rates go up they are more likely to go up more.

The more interest rates go up less will be available to pay for entitlements.

Even if we raise taxes by 1% of gross domestic product you will not wipe out the deficit. And, higher taxes will over time have a negative effect on economic growth.

We all have wants. Government spending needs to be limited to what we need.

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