David Frum

06.20.12

This is Why You're Broke

A new survey of American politics by the British polling firm YouGov highlights a familiar pattern in US deficit politics:

YouGov asked: "Which of the following would you support as ways to reduce the nation's budget deficit?" They altered the rules of polling slightly, however, to deny respondents a "don't know" answer. Respondents had to answer something, either yes or no.

Denied the "don't know" exit, Democrats favored higher taxes on the wealthy, 77.2%, and cuts in military spending, 46%. Democrats intensely opposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security, only about 5% in favor of either. Just 14% of Democrat answered "none of the above."

Republicans were a very different story. Unsurprisingly, many fewer Republicans supported tax increases on the wealthy (27.1%) and cuts in military spending (15.5%). Yet when denied the "don't know" exit, Republicans were scarcely more accepting of cuts to Medicare or Social Security than Democrats, only 13.5% and 15.% approving, respectively. A majority of Republicans, 53.3%, answered "none of the above"—no changes to taxes, defense, or entitlements.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is our quandary.