In what should be a shock to no one, the public isn't exactly happy with the provisions of Bowles-Simpson:
In the survey, 57% of respondents said they were uncomfortable with gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 over the next 60 years. Some 41% said they were somewhat or very comfortable with the idea.
Roughly 70% were uncomfortable with making cuts to programs such as Medicare, Social Security and defense in order to reduce the deficit, with 27% saying they were comfortable.
And nearly 60% said they were uncomfortable with raising tax revenue through such measures as boosting the gasoline tax, limiting deductions on many home mortgages and altering corporate taxation. Nearly 40% said they were comfortable with those ideas.
To Democrats worried that "independents" are angry over deficits, take this as further proof that few people actually care about deficits, and fewer people are thrilled about what it would take to reduce those deficits. The simple fact is that most Americans hold completely incoherent views about public policy; they don't like deficits but oppose cuts to major programs. They believe that the federal government spends most of its cash on foreign aid and think you can provide more benefits without actually raising taxes.
The only thing most people notice is economic growth, and as it happens, economic growth is the key determinant in electoral success for the incumbent party. If growth is up and unemployment is down, Democrats will strike back in 2012. What's more, they can do so while taking credit for deficit reduction; after all, economic growth is the surest way to fix our short-term budget deficit.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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