Will Ohio voters support a slash-and-burn, cuts-only approach to budgeting?

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Federal Reserve Chairman and Bush-appointee, Ben Bernanke, testified before a Congressional committee this week that a GOP proposal to cut $60 billion in spending this fiscal year would slow the nation’s economic recovery and cost around 200,000 jobs. Even more dire warnings have come from Moody’s and Goldman Sachs in recent weeks. Drastic cuts to balance state budgets across the country could have a similarly harmful effect, throwing thousands more out of work and slowing or reversing growth trends.

But aren’t drastic cuts what the public wants? Maybe that was the message some in the GOP took from the November election, but apparently it’s not that simple, according to recent polls. While we don’t have good Ohio-specific data, three national polls released this week suggest that Americans prefer an approach that looks at a balance of new revenue and spending cuts.

NYTimes/CBS News – March 1

When asked to choose among 4 options for cutting the deficit, respondents chose:

Raising taxes 40%
Decrease public employee benefits 22%
Decrease funding for roads & public transit 20%
Decrease funding for education 3%

NBC/Wall Street Journal – March 3

Among all options to cutting the federal deficit, respondents strongly preferred raising new revenue to cutting programs:

A surtax on millionaires was the most acceptable option surveyed, with 81% support; 74% supported eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies & 68% supported eliminating the Bush tax cuts on those earning $200,000 or more

By comparison, reducing farm subsidies or funding to Planned Parenthood each received only 45% support

Quinnipiac – March 3

Voters oppose cuts in the growth of entitlement programs to reduce the budget deficit (70-25 against cutting Social Security; 72-25 against cutting Medicare; 59-37 against cutting Medicaid)

64 percent support a tax increase on those earning over $200K as part of any budget deal.

In short, the U.S. electorate is clearly willing to accept targeted tax increases in combination with spending cuts to balance the federal budget; we expect Ohioans’ views on the state’s budget dilemma are similar. And a slash-and-burn approach, as proposed by Congressional Republicans, could be potentially devastating to the economic recovery, according to economists. Given this outlook, will Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly pursue a balanced approach, or stick with ideology of cut, cut, cut/no new taxes?

That’s a rhetorical question. We don’t expect to see any tax loopholes closed or new tax revenue proposed by the Governor. But will the GOP overestimate their mandate and begin to feel the heat from voters and those affected by the cuts they propose? We suspect their phones will ring off the hook and the Statehouse Lawn will be repeatedly filled with protesters once library patrons, parents of kids with autism, education advocates and thousands of other interest groups see the cuts that are included in Kasich’s budget on March 15.

It will be interesting to see if any polls are done in Ohio in the coming weeks on Ohio voters attitudes about a cuts-only strategy, but if we were the GOP, we might be conducting some of our own. We suspect the voters may prefer some creative revenue enhancements over a slash-and-burn budget targeting the most vulnerable Ohioans at the expense of tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporate interests.

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  1. And by “creative revenue enhancements” I expect you mean something like

    • LOL!

      Well we were thinking more along the lines of expanding the sales tax base to cover items (and services) that are currently exempt, ensuring a tax that has a broad base and a low rate.

      But the eBay idea isn’t bad. But it cuts the Wall Street bankers out of the loop, which I assume makes it a non-starter.

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