Tuesday :: Sep 14, 2010

GOP/Tea Party Platform Not Popular

by Deacon Blues
National Journal graphic

We've been flooded with cable TV coverage telling us about the wave coming our way of Tea Party anger that will sweep Democrats out of office. The mainstream network TV news and major newspapers are all following the same right-leaning script, just as you'd expect they would.

But has anyone actually polled respondents to find out how popular the Tea Party/GOP agenda really is? The National Journal and the Pew Research Center have now done so, taking the GOP/Tea Party's actual stances on Medicare, Social Security, the Bush tax cuts, and a repeal of health care reform and asking respondents if they support those prescriptions. The results?

Americans offer tepid support for much of the Republican Party's domestic agenda, including repealing the new healthcare law and extending tax cuts for the wealthy, according to the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center.
The results suggest Republicans could struggle to pass legislation advancing many of the smaller-government themes that have dominated their campaigns in the midterm elections, even if the party wins control of one or both houses of Congress in November.
In particular, the party appears to risk a backlash from senior citizens, a critical voting bloc that harbors deep skepticism about tinkering with entitlement programs.

And yet Obama asked for a deficit reduction commission to go after Medicare and Social Security. So how does the public view GOP/Tea Party demands?

One in three respondents favored repealing the healthcare law. Similar proportions backed extending all tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush and replacing the government-run Medicare system with a program that provides vouchers for private health insurance.
On tax cuts, respondents divided into roughly thirds on whether to extend all the tax cuts, repeal them, or repeal only cuts for the wealthy and extend the rest.

Only a third support keeping the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, yet there are four Senate Democrats plus Joe Lieberman who demand that the wealthy keep their tax cuts. The poll shows that there is only fractional support for repealing health care reform and converting Medicare to a voucher system. Even the GOP and independents steer away from these ideas.

The plans drew mixed reviews from self-described independents. Perhaps more jarringly for Republican leaders, fewer than half of Republican respondents favored extending all the Bush tax cuts or replacing Medicare benefits with vouchers.

Some will be dismayed to see the support for Social Security private accounts, but any support for this will wither once the public is educated about the transition costs of backfilling the redirected monies with trillions of debt to maintain current benefits.

The GOP has been taken over by an extremist and very white base advocating unpopular policies. The public has no idea who actually leads the GOP, and the Democrats have the perfect opportunity with these poll results to fill in those gaps. And yet the media and cowardly conservative Democrats treat the Tea Party as if it were the mainstream and not the fringe.

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