Poll Shows 25% Have an Opinion About a Totally Fake Budget Plan

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Leon PanettaPublic Policy Polling has developed a reputation for asking mischievous, offbeat questions: The Democratic-leaning pollster once determined God's approval rating, and has put a host of quirky political queries to respondents in recent years.

On Tuesday, the firm released the results of its latest polling, including the traditional inquiry into President Barack Obama's job approval, as well as anodyne topics like Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge. There were also questions tending towards PPP's undeclared specialty: probing Americans' ignorance -- especially on topics of concern to conservative voters.

So, for instance, respondents were asked whether they thought the election was legitimately won by Barack Obama, or stolen for him by ACORN -- the defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which was done in by the questionable undercover video stunts of conservative activists. Despite the fact that a group no longer in operation would probably have a hard time stealing an election, 24 percent of those polled said that ACORN was guilty (and Obama the beneficiary of a fraud); another 10 percent weren't sure.

This is perhaps understandable: Maybe the conspiratorially-minded believe that ACORN has not in fact dissolved, only gone underground. Less excusable, however, were the responses on deficit reduction. When asked about the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, which proposes to restore budgetary balance through $2.9 trillion in spending cuts and $2.6 trillion in tax increases, 39 percent were willing to express an opinion: 23 percent supported it, and 16 percent opposed. So far, so good.

The trouble came when 25 percent weighed in on the "Panetta-Burns plan" -- a nonexistent proposal concocted by PPP, presumably in order to demonstrate that a surprisingly high percentage of people have no problem offering an opinion on topics they don't know the first thing about.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (pictured, above) is a longtime Democratic player in Washington, having served in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993 (chairing the House Committee on the Budget during his last three years in the chamber). Like Erskine Bowles -- half of the eponymous bipartisan deficit reduction duo -- Panetta was a White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration. "Burns" presumably refers to Conrad Burns, like Alan Simpson a former Republican senator from the West. But if Panetta and Burns ever teamed up on anything, it hasn't made the news. So you've got to wonder what those 175 people thought they were passing judgment on. (700 voters in total were surveyed.)

In Americans' defense, Panetta is currently involved in deliberations concerning budget cuts: As Fox News reports, "The Pentagon said Wednesday it is now preparing for billions of dollars in budget cuts should President Obama and congressional Republicans fail to reach an alternative plan by Jan. 1," triggering the sequestration component of the so-called fiscal cliff.

But whatever plan for handling the fiscal cliff comes out of Washington, it's just about certain Panetta's name won't be on it.


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chris1011

Of the roughly 16 trillion in US debt ... the holders in order of magnitude are.....

(43%) US individuals and Institutions ,
(18%) Social Security ;
(12%) All foreign nations except China/Japan/UK
(8%) China
(6%) Japan
(6%) United Civil Service Retirement fund
(3%) UK
(2%) US Military Retirement fund

December 08 2012 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
freethedems2012

Chrissy thinks the longer the post the more sense it makes. Not true.

December 06 2012 at 10:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to freethedems2012's comment
icantgetnosatisfaction

Chrissy the huffpuff moron.

December 07 2012 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
freethedems2012

Liberals do love their smoke and mirrors. Anything to distract America from the Obama disaster.

December 06 2012 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

Now that they've lost their election and are seeing their political future circling down the drain, a lot of folks on the political right are drowning in despair and retreating even further into the cocoon of non-reality they've created for themselves. And that response is especially acute on farthest fringes of the Right, where the militiamen are stocking up for the Obamacalypse.

Even among the larger population of mainstream conservatives, they're not handling the election results well. Fully 49 percent of them think Obama won with the help of ACORN-induced vote fraud -- apparently oblivious to the fact that ACORN has been defunct for the better part of two years. Then again, those same polls show their numbers overall are shrinking in a downward spiral.

The most hard-core of these among the "mainstream" Republicans just had their most recent moment of glory -- protecting America from the "threat" of a loss of sovereignty under the guise of a basic act of decency such as recognizing the rights of the disabled. As Dan Drezner observes, it's hard to tell just what these "sovereignists" are on about.

Though actually, if you've been observing the American Right for a long time, it's not hard at all to see what these folks are on about: They're succumbing to their inner John Birchers, retreating to a paranoid fantasyland in which President Obama and the Democrats are about to destroy every last vestige of freedom in America on behalf of the ever-conspiring Communists who lurk inside the New World Order.

The Right has been warming up to this for a long time, including their insane hysteria in the run-up to the election. And whenever they suffer a bad election, they go through paroxysms of discontent in which large chunks of them opt for total withdrawal from American society as preparation for the End of the World As We Know It. And some of them fantasize about how they can take on evil oppressive liberal dictatorship.

You can actually find a whole genre of books dedicated to this worldview. I call it "Patriot Porn" -- fictional books that tell the tales of brave bands of patriotic survivors who take on the powers of the evil liberal/commie/Mooslim overlords and carve out their pocket of resistance and survival. They have titles like By Force of Patriots and Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse, and Firebase Freedom (whose author, the late William W. Johnstone, appears to have been dead since 2004 but somehow seems to keep producing, zombie-like, these awful paranoid Patriot fantasy titles such as The Blood of Patriots and Phoenix Rising; Firebase Freedom is coming out this month). And yes, you can actually pick up the Johnstone books off the grocery-store paperback shelf.

December 06 2012 at 4:57 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
indisposed99999

"[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."
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Chris, its people like you that make me embarrassed to admit I am a democrat.

You can subscribe to whatever political theory you want, but you cannot change economic reality. The reforms of the tax code in 1986 are universally applauded by experts as the example of how to do tax reform "right". They not only increased revenues to the government, but did so by broadening the base of tax, eliminating economic distortions and, this is a big one, MAKING THE TAX SYSTEM AS A WHOLE MORE PROGRESSIVE. In other words, a greater percentage of the total tax burden was borne by the wealthiest americans after 1986 than before.

The bush tax cuts accomplished pretty much the same thing. The percentage of total income taxes and total taxes paid by the top 1%/5%, etc. was greater after the bush tax cuts than before.

The reason our deficits have exploded is 2-fold, tax receipts are lower than they were in 2008 due to the lingering effects of the economic recovery and the fact that spending is far higher. However, of the two, spending is the far bigger issue.

In fact, to the extent there is a legitimate criticism of the Bush Administration, its that it spent more than the stereotypical democrat. If spending had simply grown at the rate of inflation from 2000 through today, we would have nearly paid off the entire national debt.

December 06 2012 at 4:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
indisposed99999

joeproblemchild
at leat leprechauns might grant you a wish, and have a nice stash of gold.
-------------
I'd be happy to prove to you how remarkably stupid Ron Paul's economic vision of America is. For example, one of the problems Paul cites repeatedly is the trade deficits run by the country. Its par for the course for politicians to bemoan the fact that we don't "make as many things in this country as we used to"....the fact that he resorts to cliches is the least of his sins.

His bigger sin is that he wants to go back to the gold standard. In economic terms, that would make the US dollar far "stronger". While stronger sounds good in theory, it carries some pretty serious economic consequences. The biggest being it makes the things you make in your country that much more expensive for foreigners to buy.

Of course, that is precisely why the US, Europe and Japan have been engaged in what amounts to a death cycle for the past 15 years, as each tries to devalue its currency relative to teh others, to benefit its exports.



However, I suspect you are far more interested in

December 06 2012 at 4:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

Joe: >>>Budget deficits were lower (in constant dollars) under both Reagan and Dubya than under CastrObama, while revenue to the federal government (constant dollars) was higher under W. Bush than any other administration since 1940...I beleive this is highest ever, since the chart only goes back to 1940. Check out the budget deficits as well... http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?>>>

Joe, here is your answer:
http://crooksandliars.com/jon-perr/10-inconvenient-truths-about-debt-ceiling

December 06 2012 at 4:15 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment
chris1011

Here, then, are 10 Inconvenient Truths About the Debt Ceiling:

1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a "Financial Disaster"
2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
4. Republicans Voted Seven Times to Raise Debt Ceiling for President Bush
5. Federal Taxes Are Now at a 60 Year Low
6. Bush Tax Cuts Didn't Pay for Themselves or Spur "Job Creators"
7. Ryan Budget Delivers Another Tax Cut Windfall for Wealthy
8. Ryan Budget Will Require Raising Debt Ceiling - Repeatedly
9. Tax Cuts Drive the Next Decade of Debt
10. $3 Trillion Tab for Unfunded Wars Remains Unpaid

(Click a link to jump to the data and details for each.)

1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a "Financial Disaster"
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty are among the GOP luminaries who have joined the ranks of what Dana Milbank called the "default deniers." But you don't have to take Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's word for it "that if Congress doesn't agree to an increase in the debt limit by August 2, the United States will be forced to default on its debt, potentially spreading panic and collapse across the globe." As it turns out, Republican leaders (and their big business backers) have said the same thing.

In their few moments of candor, Republican leaders expressed agreement with Tim Geithner's assessment that default by the U.S. "would have a catastrophic economic impact that would be felt by every American." The specter of a global financial cataclysm has been described as resulting in "severe harm" (McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi), "financial collapse and calamity throughout the world" (Senator Lindsey Graham) and "you can't not raise the debt ceiling" (House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan). In January, even Speaker John Boehner acknowledged as much:


"That would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on election day said, 'we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs.' And you can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt."

2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
Among the Republicans who prophesied the default doomsday scenario was none other than conservative patron saint, Ronald Reagan. As he warned Congress in November 1983:


"The full consequences of a default -- or even the serious prospect of default -- by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar."

Reagan knew what he was talking about. After all, the hemorrhage of red ink at the U.S. Treasury was his doing.

As most analysts predicted, Reagan's massive $749 billion supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-setting debt. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous "rosy scenarios."

Forced to raise taxes eleven times to avert financial catastrophe, the Gipper nonetheless presided over a tripling of the American national debt to nearly $3 trillion. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan more than equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history. It's no wonder Stockman lamented last year:


"[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."

It's no wonder the Gipper cited the skyrocketing deficits he bequeathed to America as his greatest regret.

3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
Following in Reagan's footsteps, George W. Bush buried the myth of Republican fiscal discipline.

Inheriting a federal budget in the black and CBO forecast for a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years, President George W. Bush quickly set about dismantling the progress made under Bill Clinton. Bush's $1.4 trillion tax cut in 2001, followed by a $550 billion second round in 2003, accounted for the bulk of the yawning budget deficits he produced. (It is more than a little ironic that Paul Ryan ten years ago called the tax cuts "too small" because he believed the estimated surplus Bush eviscerated would be even larger.)

December 06 2012 at 4:18 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
indisposed99999

chris1011
Obama actually did impliment Republican ideas. The Affordable Care Act was originally a Republican idea, implimented by Romney in Mass and then by Obama almost exactly to a "T". It was a Heritage Foundation idea to counter the Clinton scheme.
---------------------------
So, the top article is about people posting on topics they have no actual knowledge of....and you provide further proof of the underlying thesis.

The affordable care act is a massive overhaul of the health care industry. The massachusetts plan endorsed by Romney has some key elements in common, but there are also massive differences. For starters, the massachusetts program actually accomplishes its goal of reducing the number of uninsured, while the affordable care act fails miserably on that front. In fact, if don't count the number of people that will gain insurance by going on Medicaid (and you shouldn't, because that is simply expanding a government entitlement), the net number of uninsured will actually increase under the affordable care act.

The reason is simple. The issue of uninsured people seeking care in ERs is what economists call an "externality". Both Romneycare and ObamaCare address that externality in the same way, i.e., by forcing people to get insurance. However, they differ in the size of the relative penalty vs. the relative cost.

The penalties for not having qualifying insurance in MA are quite high, in fact, for most people, they EXCEED the costs of getting insurance. That is why it has worked, for the most part. The ones that remain uninsured are the ones where the costs of buying insurance (net of state subsidies) is still more than the costs of the penalty.

By contrast, the penalty for not having insurance under ACA is capped at 2% of your income in 2014. For someone making less than $100K, thats less than $2000. By contrast, even the cheapest insurance policy costs nearly 3 times that.

The employer mandate incentives are even worse. Any decent economist will tell you they incentive employers to: (1) drop coverage entirely (cheaper than costs of buying insurance) and (2) drop people's hours (to get them under 30 hours a week). Moreover, the incentives to drop insurance are stronger the lower the employee's wages are (because the costs of insurance are a proportionately greater part of total compensation). Thats the trifeta of bad economic incentives.

The problem is simple: democrats don't know the first thing about economics. Their rhetoric on the current fiscal cliff talks prove that. Not that republicans are any better....

December 06 2012 at 4:13 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Stefanie Carter

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December 06 2012 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kitharris1

reminds me of fox interviewing obama supporters and asking if they thought sarah palin was a good running mate for obama or when they stated the republican policies as obama's and his supporters thought they were great ideas. i'm going out on a limb here, but i'm pretty sure obama had the most clueless voters. in my opinion.

December 06 2012 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kitharris1's comment
chris1011

Obama actually did impliment Republican ideas. The Affordable Care Act was originally a Republican idea, implimented by Romney in Mass and then by Obama almost exactly to a "T". It was a Heritage Foundation idea to counter the Clinton scheme.

December 06 2012 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply