The 2012 presidential election is over, and President Barack Obama has been re-elected. Congress and the country now confront the question: What next? What message did the voters send about policy priorities and our road forward as a nation?
Some of the best information comes from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research postelection poll conducted for Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America’s Future. In that survey voters were asked to choose the biggest priority after the election: growing the economy or a plan to reduce the budget deficit. By an overwhelming 62 percent to 30 percent margin, voters put growth over deficit reduction.
Voters also have some very clear preferences about how to reach a deal on deficit reduction. According to those surveyed, the most unacceptable methods to cut the deficit are:
- Capping Medicare payments and forcing seniors to pay more (79 percent of respondents said this was unacceptable)
- Requiring deep cuts in domestic programs without protecting programs for children and education (75 percent)
- Cutting discretionary spending such as education, child nutrition, worker training, and disease control (72 percent)
- Not raising taxes on the rich (68 percent)
- Lowering top tax rates for the rich and corporations (67 percent)
- Continuing to tax investors’ income at lower rates than workers’ pay (63 percent)
- Reducing Social Security benefits over time by having them rise more slowly than the cost of living (62 percent)
There’s a message there, and a powerful one at that, if policymakers care to listen.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.