Saving Anti-Poverty Spending

Gallup’s polling on things people think would be good ways to reduce the deficit:

The way I think about this is that on taxes and defense, the structure of opinion among self-identified independents is basically similar to the structure of views among Democrats’ views. But on non-defense discretionary spending, self-identified independents are more like Democrats. Social Security and Medicare are a tricky case. On the one hand, most people don’t favor cuts. On the other hand, the structure of opinion places independents closer to Republicans than to Democrats. Thorny.

The risk here is that if independents run the table, the left wins on taxes and defense and maybe wins on Social Security and Medicare, but both anti-poverty spending and “win the future” stuff on infrastructure get hammered. The White House, through its rhetoric and the structure of the super committee, is positioning itself to the right of where a strict “listen to independents” strategy would suggest on Social Security and Medicare but to the left of where such a strategy would place you on poverty programs.