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Archive for the ‘Public Opinion’ Category

Since starting this blog, I’ve periodically shared polling data that gives me hope. Highlights include:

o More than two-to-one support for personal retirement accounts.

o Recognition that big government is the greatest danger to America’s future.

o An increasingly negative view of the federal government.

o More than eight-to-one support for less spending rather than higher taxes.

o Strong support for bureaucrat layoffs and/or entitlement reforms instead of higher taxes.

o And my favorite poll results are the ones showing that voters understand that the goal is less spending, not lower deficits.

Now there’s some new research that is both encouraging and educational. Here’s part of the report from The Hill.

Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill. The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below. The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward. The Hill Poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent… Republicans were more likely than Democrats to support lower tax rates for the wealthy, but voters in both parties solidly supported lower rates compared to current law. Eighty-one percent of Republicans favored tax rates below current levels, compared to 70 percent of Democrats. The Hill Poll, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research of 1,000 likely voters, also found broad support for lower rates across income groups. The group most supportive of lowering tax rates on the wealthy below current rates made between $20,000 and $40,000 a year; 81 percent supported tax rates of 30 percent or lower.

This data is important because it shows the value of framing an issue. Instead of defensively responding to Obama’s class warfare, proponents of good tax policy should be making a philosophical/economic point that “nobody in America, no matter how rich or how poor, should have to pay more than one-fourth of their income to government.”

And proponents of class warfare should be put on the spot and asked “what do you think is the maximum tax rate anyone should pay?”

Last but not least, friends of liberty should make the key point that higher tax rates on the so-called rich are merely precursors for higher tax rates on everyone else – as even the New York Times recently admitted.

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Even when the results coincide with my views, I have a jaundiced view of polling data. In large part, this is because the answers often depend on how a question is framed.

That being said, I periodically link to polling data about economic policy if I think we can glean some insight from the data.

I assume, for instance, that trends can be accurately detected if the same question is asked year after year, regardless of whether the question is fair or slanted.

This is why I posted this poll showing that Americans are increasingly hostile to the federal government.

Similarly, I showed this data on how a growing number of Americans see the federal government as a threat to freedom and liberty.

I also like multi-country polls. Whether the questions are straightforward or tilted, you can at least learn something about differences in national attitudes.

One of my favorite polls, for instance, compared the degree to which Americans and Europeans think it’s okay to mooch off government.

I’m not sure, though, how to react to this latest survey data. Published in the New York Times, it shows widespread global support for more regulation. Here are the results (click the image to enlarge).

These results obviously are not good news for supporters of deregulation – especially since the burden of red tape already is so onerous.

The only bit of good news, at least for American chauvinists, is that people in the United States are more likely than others to think there is “too much” regulation.

But if you look at the data from a different perspective, people in Singapore and Sweden are least likely to say there’s “not enough” regulation.

The most puzzling bit of data is that people in Hong Kong appear to be the most sympathetic to regulation. Considering that Hong Kong is the most economically free jurisdiction in the world, this doesn’t make much sense.

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I posted some polling data a couple of weeks ago that showed how the dependency mindset (as captured by these cartoons) is far worse in Europe than it is in the United States.

Now let’s look at some additional public opinion research from Gallup that illuminates American exceptionalism. Here is how voters responded to a question on the biggest threat to America’s future.

Though I don’t want to get too optimistic. Given what’s happening in Europe and the fact that politicians so far have failed to enact genuine entitlement reform, the 64 percent should be 94 percent.

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I wrote last year that, “I don’t think public policy should be based on polling data, but I always am happy when the American people are on the right side of an issue since it increases the possibility of good outcomes in Washington.”

One other thing to consider is that pollsters can manipulate results by changing how they word a question.

But even with those caveats, I feel good about two three new polls. First, from the folks at Gallup,we have two charts showing that the federal government isn’t winning any popularity contests.

And here’s some more data from the Gallup poll, showing that the federal government has the lowest net positive (or in this case, highest net negative) of any segment of the U.S. economy. It even ranks below lawyers and the oil/gas industry.

We also have some numbers from Rasmussen showing that voters are particularly dismayed by the power of the federal government.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 50% of Likely Voters believe the federal government has too much influence over state governments. Just 11% think the federal government does not have enough influence while 26% believe the balance is about right. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.  …These results come at a time when just 17% believe the federal government has the consent of the governed and only 14% believe the country is generally heading in the right direction.

I also like that only 17 percent think the federal government “has the consent of the governed.” Sounds like people have figured out that much of what happens in Washington is a racket for the benefit of insiders.

Numbers like these warm my heart – just as happened with recent polls on spending cuts, the VAT, and Social Security reform.

P.S. There’s a new Reason-Rupe poll showing that the American people understand that reducing the burden of government spending will boost the economy, whereas tax increases will just lead to bigger government.

…over 57 percent of Americans say reducing government spending will “mostly help” the economy, according to a new national Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey of 1,200 adults. Just 21 percent believe cutting spending will “mostly harm” the economy. …If taxes do go up, Americans don’t trust that the new revenue will be used to reduce the national debt.  When asked what they expect Congress would do with money generated by tax increases, 62 percent of Americans say Congress would spend that money on new programs. Only 27 percent of taxpayers believe Congress would actually use the money to pay down the national debt.

All these results demonstrate the wisdom of the American people (though I reserve the right to re-classify them as ignorant yokels when they disagree with me).

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We have some very encouraging polling data from CBS News. The American people prefer spending cuts over tax increases by a margin of more than 8-1.

Americans strongly prefer cutting spending to raising taxes to reduce the federal deficit. While 77 percent prefer to cut spending, just nine percent call for raising taxes. Another nine percent want to do both. …The most popular ideas for reducing the deficit are to reduce Social Security benefits for the wealthy, reduce the money allocated to projects in their own community, reduce farm subsidies and reduce defense spending. More than 50 percent supported reductions in each of those programs. …Forty-seven percent say it will be necessary to cut programs that benefit people like them to reduce the deficit.

These results show that the American people understand big government is the problem. And Republicans probably deserve some credit since they’ve been making the right noises about Obama’s misguided agenda.

But if you dig into the details of the poll, the GOP has done an inadequate job of helping people understand why various programs, departments, and agencies should be abolished. The polling data surely would be even better if Republicans were moving beyond general rhetoric and exposing specific examples of waste, fraud, and abuse. And public opinion presumably would be even stronger if Republicans were out there making a principled case that a big share of spending is for things that are not legitimate functions of the federal government.

In other words, Republicans have the ability to strengthen public opinion and get the American people even more excited about an agenda of principled, small-government federalism.

But that will only happen if GOPers actually want to shrink the size and scope of government. Based on what happened the last time they were in power, that’s still an open question.

Welcome Instapundit readers!

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When big-spending politicians in Washington pontificate about “deficit reduction,” taxpayers should be very wary. Crocodile tears about red ink almost always are a tactic that the political class uses to make tax increases more palatable. The way it works is that the crowd in DC increases spending, which leads to more red ink, which allows them to say we have a deficit crisis, which gives them an excuse to raise taxes, which then gives them more money to spend. This additional spending then leads to more debt, which provides a rationale for higher taxes, and the pattern continues – sort of a lather-rinse-repeat cycle of big government.

Fortunately, it looks like the American people have figured out this scam. By a 57-34 margin, they say that reducing federal spending should be the number-one goal of fiscal policy rather than deficit reduction. And since red ink is just a symptom of the real problem of too much spending, this data is very encouraging.

Here are some of the details from a new Rasmussen poll, which Mark Tapscott labels, “evidence of a yawning divide between the nation’s Political Class and the rest of the country on what to do about the federal government’s fiscal crisis.”

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think reducing federal government spending is more important than reducing the deficit. Thirty-four percent (34%) put reducing the deficit first.  It’s telling to note that while 65% of Mainstream voters believe cutting spending is more important, 72% of the Political Class say the primary emphasis should be on deficit reduction. …Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans and 50% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties say cutting spending is more important than reducing the deficit. Democrats are more narrowly divided on the question. Most conservatives and moderates say spending cuts should come first, but most liberals say deficit reduction is paramount. Voters have consistently said in surveys for years that increased government spending hurts the economy, while decreased spending has a positive effect on the economy.

I wouldn’t read too much into the comparative data, since the “political class” in Rasmussen’s polls apparently refers to respondents with a certain set of establishment preferences rather than those living in the DC area and/or those mooching off the federal government, but the overall results are very encouraging.

Oh, and for those who naively trust politicians and want to cling to the idea that deficit reduction should be the first priority, let’s not forget that spending restraint is the right policy anyhow. As I noted in this blog post, even economists at institutions such as Harvard and the IMF are finding that nations are far more successful in reducing red ink if they focus on controlling the growth of government spending.

In other words, the right policy is always spending restraint – regardless of your goal…unless you’re a member of the political class and you want to make government bigger by taking more money from taxpayers.

So we know what to do. The only question is whether we can get the folks in Washington to do what’s right. Unfortunately, the American people are not very optimistic. Here’s one more finding from Rasmussen.

Most voters are still not convinced, even with a new Republican majority in the House, that Congress will actually cut government spending substantially over the next year.  GOP voters are among the most doubtful.

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I just had the interesting experience of getting called by a well-known polling company while sitting in the Tampa Airport.

The good news is that they’re allegedly going to send me $5 for participating via cell phone (yes, I’m a cheap bastard, so that was all it took to convince me to give up 10 minutes of my time – especially since there are not many exciting things to do while waiting for a delayed flight).

The bad news is that polling companies ask poorly designed questions.

I was asked, for instance, what I wanted as the main goal of fiscal policy. My choices were, a) reducing taxes, b) reducing the deficit, or c) maintaining government services. I told the pollster that the right answer is, d) reducing government spending. After all, the evidence is very clear that excessive government slows growth by diverting resources from the productive sector of the economy. Sadly, the poll only allowed the three options. So I said “reducing taxes” since that was my only choice that couldn’t be misinterpreted.

Another question was whether the retirement of the baby boom generation would create problems for health care. So I told the pollster that also made no sense. The retirement of the boomers would create big problems for Medicare and Medicaid, but that’s not the same as big problems for health care. So I refused to answer that question. In retrospect, I probably should have answered “yes” since government intervention has screwed up the entire health care system, even the parts that ostensibly are private.

To be fair, most of the questions were straightforward. Shockingly, I said that I disapproved of Obama’s performance. You’ll also be stunned to learn that I said I was a strong supporter of the Tea Party movement. And I was insulted to be asked whether I was male or female after a 10-minute conversation.

Last but not least, I avoided the temptation to mis-identify myself as a Pacific Islander. That should only be done when dealing with government.

One final note. This actually was my second experience with pollsters. The first time happened when I was walking by a pay phone in a shopping mall in Indianapolis about 15 years ago. The phone rang, nobody was around, so I figured I would answer and tell the person they had a wrong number. Much to my surprise, it was a polling company, which proceeded to ask me questions about a local congressional race. Even though I obviously couldn’t vote in that area, I went ahead and told them I was firmly against Congresswoman Carson.

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I’ve always had a soft spot for Switzerland. The nation’s decentralized structure shows the value of federalism, both as a means of limiting the size of government and as a way of promoting tranquility in a nation with several languages, religions, and ethnic groups. I also admire Switzerland’s valiant attempt to preserve financial privacy in a world dominated by greedy, high-tax governments.

I now have another reason to admire the Swiss. Voters yesterday overwhelmingly rejected a class-warfare proposal to impose higher tax rates on the income and wealth of rich residents. The Social Democrats did their best to make the hate-and-envy scheme palatable. Only the very richest taxpayers would have been affected. But Swiss voters, like voters in Washington state earlier this month, understood that giving politicians more money is never a solution for any problem.

Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg’s report on the vote.

In a referendum today, 59 percent of voters turned down the proposal by the Social Democrats to enact minimum taxes on income and wealth. Residents would have paid taxes of at least 22 percent on annual income above 250,000 francs ($249,000), according to the proposed changes. Switzerland’s executive and parliamentary branches had rejected the proposal, saying it would interfere with the cantons’ tax-autonomy regulations. The changes would also damage the nation’s attractiveness, the government, led by President Doris Leuthard, said before the vote. The Alpine country’s reputation as a low-tax refuge has attracted bankers and entrepreneurs such as Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish founder of Ikea AB furniture stores, and members of the Brenninkmeijer family, who owns retailer C&A Group.

It’s never wise to draw too many conclusions from one vote, but it certainly seems that voters usually reject higher taxes when they get a chance to cast votes. Even tax increases targeting a tiny minority of the population generally get rejected. The only exception that comes to mind is the unfortunate decision by Oregon voters earlier this year to raise tax rates.

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Last week, I highlighted nine ballot initiatives that were worth watching because of their policy implications and/or their role is showing whether voters wanted more or less freedom. The results, by and large, are very encouraging. Let’s take a look at the results of those nine votes, as well as a few additional key initiatives.

1. The big spenders wanted to impose an income tax in the state of Washington, and they even had support from too-rich-to-care Bill Gates. The good news is that this initiative got slaughtered by a nearly two-to-one margin.  I was worried about this initiative since crazy  Oregon voters approved higher tax rates earlier this year. In a further bit of good news, Washington voters also approved a supermajority requirement for tax increases by a similar margin.

2. Nevada voters had a chance to vote on eminent domain abuse. This is an initiative that I mischaracterized in my original post. The language made it sound like it was designed to protect private property, but it actually was proposed by the political elite to weaken a property rights initiative that the voters previously had imposed. Fortunately, Nevada voters did not share my naiveté and the effort to weaken eminent domain protections was decisively rejected.  This is important, of course, because of the Supreme Court’s reprehensible Kelo decision.

3. California voters were predictably disappointing. They rejected the initiative to legalize marijuana, thus missing an opportunity to adopt a more sensible approach to victimless crimes. The crazy voters from the Golden State also kept in place a suicidal global warming scheme that is driving jobs out of the state. The only silver lining in California’s dark cloud is that voters did approve a supermajority requirement for certain revenue increases.

4. Nearly 90 percent of voters in Kansas approved an initiative to remove any ambiguity about whether individuals have the right to keep and bear arms. Let that be a warning to those imperialist Canadians, just in case they’re plotting an invasion.

5. Arizona voters had a chance to give their opinion on Obamacare. Not surprisingly, they were not big fans, with more than 55 percent of them supporting an initiative in favor of individual choice in health care. A similar initiative was approved by an even greater margin in Oklahoma. Shifting back to Arizona, voters also strongly rejected racial and sexual discrimination by government, but they narrowly failed to approve medical marijuana.

6. Shifting to the local level, San Francisco, one of the craziest cities in America rejected a proposal to require bureaucrats to make meaningful contributions to support their bloated pension and health benefits. On the other hand, voters did approve a proposal to ban people from sleeping on sidewalks. Who knew that was a big issue?

7. Sticking with the ever-amusing Golden State, voters unfortunately eliminated the requirement for a two-thirds vote in the legislature to approve a budget, thus making it even easier for politicians to increase the burden of government spending. The state almost certainly is already on a path to bankruptcy, and this result will probably hasten its fiscal demise. Hopefully, the new GOP majority in the House of Representatives will say no when soon-to-be Governor Brown comes asking for a bailout.

8. The entire political establishment in Massachusetts was united in its opposition to an initiative to to roll back the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, and they were sucessful. But 43 percent of voters approved, so maybe there’s some tiny sliver of hope for the Bay State.

9. Louisiana voters approved an initiative to require a two-thirds vote to approve any expansion of taxpayer-financed benefits for government employees. With 65 percent of voters saying yes to this proposal, this is a good sign that the bureaucrat gravy train may finally be slowing down.

At the risk of giving a grade, I think voters generally did a good job when asked to directly make decisions. I give them a solid B.

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According to a new poll from Rasmussen, almost two-thirds of the American people want smaller government and lower taxes while only one-fourth want bigger government and higher taxes. Not surprisingly, the moochers and looters of the governing elite are wildly out of touch with the American people, with 70 percent of the political class favoring an increased burden of government while 78 percent of ordinary Americans want more freedom.

Most voters (65%) say they prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes rather than one with more services and higher taxes. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that only 25% of Likely U.S. Voters favor a government with more services and higher taxes instead. …As is often the case, there is a noticeable divide between the Political Class  and Mainstream voters: 70% of the Political Class supports more services and higher taxes, while 78% of Mainstream voters prefer fewer services and lower taxes.

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Gallup just released a poll showing that 46 percent of Americans view the federal government as an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans. My first reaction was to wonder why the number was so low. After all, we have a political elite that wants to do everything from control our health care to monitor our financial transactions.

But a secondary set of numbers is even more remarkable. As seen in this chart, both Republicans and Democrats tend to view the federal government as a threat mostly when the White House is controlled by the other party.

This complacency is very unfortunate. Republicans presumably want to limit government control over the economy, yet it was the Bush Administration that put in place policies such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the banana-republic TARP bailout, the corrupt farm bills, and the pork-filled transportation bills. Democrats, meanwhile, presumably want to protect our civil liberties, yet the Obama Administration has left in place virtually all of the Bush policies that the left was upset about just two years ago. There has been no effort to undo the more troublesome provisions of the PATRIOT Act. And shouldn’t honest liberals be upset that the Obama Administration is going to such lengths to defend the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy?

The lesson to be learned is that there is an unfortunate tendency for politicians to misbehave when they get control of the machinery of government. Lord Acton warned that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s almost as if Republicans and Democrats do their best every day to confirm this statement.

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Time for some much-needed positive news. Ordinary taxpayers are slowly but surely figuring out that federal workers are overpaid and underworked. Here are some of the details from the story in the Washington Post.

More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do…according to a Washington Post poll. Half also say the men and women who keep the government running do not work as hard as employees at private companies. …In the new Post survey, 52 percent of Americans think that federal civil servants are paid too much, a view held by nearly two in three Republicans and about seven in 10 conservatives. Far fewer Democrats, independents, liberals and moderates hold this opinion. …Three-quarters of those surveyed say they think federal workers are paid more and get better benefits than their counterparts outside government, an increase of seven percentage points from a Post-ABC poll conducted in 1982.

And if you want to know why a bloated and overpaid government workforce is bad for the economy, this part of the story says it all.

…nearly half of Republicans would recommend a government job to a relative or close friend just graduating, compared with 70 percent of Democrats. “Why not?” asked Nirmal Sandhu, 56, the father of two college students, who emigrated from India to Long Island in 1987. “Working in the federal government is a good job. For my kids, I think it would be great.” …African Americans are far more sympathetic to civil servants than are whites, with three-quarters saying they would like to see a young person close to them pursue a career in government.

When people think that mooching off taxpayers and pushing paper for a bureaucracy is a worthy ambition, that is a sign that the nation’s social capital is eroding. And when people actually wind up in the bureaucracy, that is a sign that the nation’s labor force is being misallocated. In either case, long-term growth suffers.

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There’s an encouraging new poll from Gallup which reveals that 72 percent of Americans say something negative when asked for a one-word description of the federal government. Here’s the “word cloud” showing the results. As you can see, this is very similar to the results for a similar poll on how people describe Congress. Not surprisingly, “corrupt” and “incompetent” are prominent in both polls.

Here’s how Gallup describes the results:

A Sept. 20-21 USA Today/Gallup poll asked respondents what they would say “if someone asked you to describe the federal government in one word or phrase.” The accompanying chart shows the results in graphic form, with the words or phrases displayed according to how frequently they are mentioned. …Overall, 72% of responses about the federal government are negative, touching on its inefficiency, size, corruption, and general incompetence, with the most common specific descriptions being “too big,” “confused,” and “corrupt.” …The generally negative top-of-mind images of the federal government are consistent with the poor ratings the government receives in Gallup’s annual update on the images of business and industry sectors. In the most recent update, from August, 58% rated the federal government negatively and 26% positively.

A word of caution is appropriate at this point. I don’t have the link handy, but I recall recently reading that negative views about government don’t necessarily translate into support for smaller government. If my memory is correct, people apparently want more government-provided security in an environment where there is less faith in the competence of government. Doesn’t make sense to me, but I guess it means that all of us need to do a better job of helping people draw logical conclusions.

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I always view polling data with a bit of skepticism, but I’m nonetheless embarrassed by new data from a 22-nation poll showing that German and French respondents are even more opposed to so-called stimulus spending than American respondents. If Americans are to the left of Europeans on size-of-government issues, that does not bode well for our future. On the other had, at least we’re not as naive and/or stupid as Egyptians, Mexicans, Russians, Indonesians, and Nigerians. Here’s a blurb from the summary.

In 14 of 22 countries most people–on average 56 per cent–favour an increase in government spending to stimulate the economy. This includes large majorities of Egyptians (91%), Mexicans (80%), Russians and Indonesians (both 78%), and Nigerians (73%). But majorities are opposed in a number of industrialised countries that had large stimulus programmes–Germany (66%), France (63%) and the US (58%).

The good news from the poll is that a majority of people around the world recognize that governments waste money at alarming rates. Americans think that 55 percent of their taxes are squandered. The Spanish, for inexplicable reasons, are most likely to think money is not wasted (perhaps because most of them have their snouts in the pubic trough?).

People believe that their government misspends more than half the money they pay in tax, according to the findings of a new BBC World Service global poll across 22 countries–but many are still looking to government to play a more active economic role. The poll of more than 22,000 people, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA, found that people estimated on average that 52 per cent of the money they pay in tax is not used in ways that serve the interests and values of the people of their country. …The countries with the lowest average estimate of misspent tax money were Spain (average 34% misspent), Indonesia (40%), Azerbaijan and Egypt (both 42%). The highest were in Columbia (74% misspent) and Pakistan (69%). In the world’s two largest economies, Americans estimate on average that 55 per cent of their taxes are misspent, while in China the figure is 46 per cent. …As well as being less likely to support action to address the deficit, those who have the highest estimates of tax misspending are less likely to support government stimulus spending–among those who think that more than three-quarters of their tax money is misspent, only 47 per cent believe the government should spend to stimulate the economy.

The full report can be read here.

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That’s the tile of an insightful column at Thehill.com, which points out that Tea Party activism has succeeded in shifting the debate from making government bigger to making government smaller. The columnist also is correct in explaining how the Tea Party, by dethroning some entrenched incumbents, is forcing the GOP to at least pretend to be on the side of taxpayers.

The Tea Party insurgency will not only cost Democrats dozens of seats in Congress, and likely their majority — it will define the coming GOP presidential nominating process, determine the direction of the GOP for years to come and threaten any remaining plans Obama has for sweeping reforms of education, energy policy or our immigration system. Last March, Republicans joined Democrats in calling on Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) to end his filibuster against the extension of unemployment benefits paid for by deficit spending, embarrassed he was blocking aid to the jobless. But it took just three months for the grassroots pressure to reach the Capitol — Bunning was a Tea Party hero. By the time the $30 billion expired on June 2, Senate Republicans had united behind a nearly two-month filibuster of the next round of $34 billion in “emergency spending” for unemployment insurance. They were joined by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and some House Democrats warned their own leaders at the time that the days of votes on “emergency spending” would soon have to come to an end. …The Tea Party candidates themselves — like O’Donnell, whom Karl Rove called “nutty,” — matter little. Only a few will actually get elected this fall. Yet the Tea Party has won without them. There are no tea leaves left to read. Democrats have been spooked and Republicans threatened, cajoled or cleansed. The results are already in.

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I am pleasantly shocked to see that a healthy majority of respondents favor partial privatization of Social Security. I knew support was reasonably strong several years ago, but I feared that the financial crisis would have made Americans more leery of financial markets. I also wondered whether the idea was discredited by its association with the Bush Administration. But a new Pew survey shows very good results, so maybe Republicans will feel more comfortable about developing a “secret plan” for Social Security reform.

…a majority favors a proposal to allow some private investments in Social Security… The latest Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection poll, sponsored by SHRM, conducted Sept. 9-12 among 1,001 adults, finds that 58% favor a proposal that would allow workers younger than age 55 to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts that would rise and fall with the markets; 28% oppose this proposal. Majorities across all age groups — except for those ages 65 and older — favor this proposal. …Support for the general concept is comparable to support for a similar plan advocated by former President George W. Bush in 2004. As he sought reelection in the fall of 2004, 58% of registered voters that September favored allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their Social Security; 26% said they opposed this change. However, after Bush won reelection and debate about the proposal began, support weakened. By March 2005, the public was largely split (44% favor, 40% oppose) and the proposal was not enacted.

P.S. The same poll shows that people are not sympathetic, however, to reforming Medicare, however, so the Social Security silver cloud does have a dark lining.

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The folks at Rasmussen Reports have done a great thing by splitting polling data by a new demographic – the political class compared to everyone else. In other words, instead of just telling us about different polling results based on factors such as race and sex, Rasmussen also tells us how polls differ based on a split that could be characterized as insiders vs outsiders. A stark example is the new poll on whether there should be any limits to federal government power. As this excerpt indicates, regular voters say yes by an astounding 94-3 margin, while 54 percent of the political class thinks there should be no limits to federal government power.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of voters nationwide say there should be “limits on what the federal government can do.” A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only nine percent (9%) believe the federal government should be allowed to do most anything in this country. These views are overwhelming shared across virtually all partisan and demographic lines. The only exception is America’s Political Class. By a 54% to 43% margin, the Political Class believes the federal government should be allowed to do most anything. Mainstream voters reject that view by a 94% to three percent (3%) margin.

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I certainly don’t think public policy should be based on polling data, but I always am happy when the American people are on the right side of an issue since it increases the possibility of good outcomes in Washington. Here are some very encouraging results from a Rasmussen poll on taxes.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults shows that only 19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason. Another 11% are undecided. Adults feel similarly when it comes to funding entitlement programs. Twenty-two percent (22%) would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.

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Here’s some more good polling data from the Resurgent Republic website. All demographic groups, including Democrats, agree that excessive pay for federal bureaucrats is a bad thing. Maybe, just maybe, this means the productive people in society are fed up and will successfully fight back:

Voters think higher average pay and benefit packages for federal government workers than for private sector workers is a bad thing for our country. Overall, voters say having higher average pay and benefit packages for federal workers than for private sector workers is a bad thing by a 62 to 19 percent margin, including a 47 to 30 percent margin among Democrats, a 65 to 14 percent margin among Independents, and a 77 to 12 percent margin among Republicans.

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I realize that public opinion polls are quirky and that answers often depend on how questions are phrased. Nonetheless, these results seem very strong.

As reported on the Bankrupting America website, there is more than three-to-one opposition against a value-added tax:

Voters think a value added tax, or VAT, is a bad idea for America. Respondents were asked which of the following statements they agree with: A value added tax is a good idea. It could raise billions of dollars in new revenue for the federal government, reduce the federal deficit without raising income taxes, and would be paid only by people who purchase certain products. [or] A value added tax is a bad idea for America. It would be a massive hidden tax that would not appear on a bill, it would increase the price of almost everything, it would be paid primarily by the middle class, and it would hurt our economic recovery. Voters think a VAT is a bad idea by 67 to 21 percent, including 53 to 31 percent among Democrats, 67 to 19 percent among Independents, and 82 to 12 percent among Republicans.

And the Rasmussen website shows more than four-in-five voters say the deficit exists because of too much spending and nearly six-in-ten recognize that new taxes would simply lead to new spending:

Only 18% of Americans are willing to pay higher taxes to lower the federal budget deficit, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-nine percent (69%) are not willing to have their taxes raised to deal with deficits that are projected to rise to historic levels over the next decade. Thirteen percent (13%) more are not sure. …Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans say the size of the federal budget deficit is due more to the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending than to the reluctance of taxpayers to pay more in taxes. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Americans already believe the country is overtaxed… Even if the president and Congress raise taxes to reduce the federal deficit, 58% of voters think they are more likely to spend the money on new government programs.

Last but not least, here are Rasmussen results showing voters recognize that higher taxes and higher spending hurt economic performance:

3* Do tax cuts help the economy, hurt the economy, or have no impact on the economy?

57% Help
19% Hurt
12% No impact
12% Not sure

4* Do increases in government spending help the economy, hurt the economy, or have no impact on the economy?

25% Help
56% Hurt
9% No impact
9% Not sure

5* Do decreases in government spending help the economy, hurt the economy, or have no impact on the economy?

52% Help
25% Hurt
11% No impact
11% Not sure

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