For months, Republicans have relentlessly promoted the Tea Party-driven message that the government spends too much, and that social welfare programs should be first on the chopping block. “To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) declared.
But a comprehensive new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll suggests Republicans significantly overestimated the public’s eagerness to tackle the federal deficit by cutting programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. As reflected in the growing “Main Street Movement,” the poll, released yesterday, found sizable majorities of Americans prefer steps like eliminating oil company subsidies, enacting a surtax on the income of millionaires, and rolling back the Bush cuts. Only 23 percent think it’s acceptable to, for example, make cuts to Medicare, while 81 percent favor instituting a millionaire’s surtax:
Additionally, only 22 percent of respondents favored cuts to Social Security (with 77 percent finding it unacceptable). Majorities also opposed reducing funding for K through 12 education, unemployment insurance, and Planned Parenthood. (House Republicans already pushed through an effort to defund Panned Parenthood, claiming Americans supported their efforts.)
Reacting to the results, one GOP pollster told NBC’s First Read that Republicans may have gravely miscalculated in their headlong rush slash spending, as demanded by the Tea Party. “It may be hard to understand why a person might jump off a cliff, unless you understand they’re being chased by a tiger. That tiger is the Tea Party,” he said.