President Obama heads into more negotiations with Congress over budget sequestration with an approval rating of 55%, his highest in three years. At the same time, Republicans only have an approval rating of 35%, according to a Bloomberg poll conducted on Feb. 15-18 of this year.
The findings may give the president political leverage to get some of his demands met by Congress, and puts pressure on Congressional Republicans to actually do something real about the sequester. However, Speaker Boehner (R-OH), wrote in The Wall Street Journal that it would be Obama’s fault should the sequester go into effect. He also rather falsely states, “The president has repeatedly called for even more tax revenue, but the American people don’t support trading spending cuts for higher taxes. They understand that the tax debate is now closed.”
In general, people are tired of the GOP’s stubborn behavior. A poll conducted by USAToday and the Pew Research Center found that a whopping 76% of Americans, including 56% of Republicans, believe that a combination of spending cuts and tax increases is what should be used to address the spiraling deficit. A mere 19% favor the spending-cuts-only approach that House Republicans are standing firm on. The poll gives the lie to Boehner’s assertion that the American people understand the tax debate is closed, which doesn’t help his, or his party’s, image.
Other polls found Americans fairly evenly divided on the issue of tax increases, with varying percentages wanting a “balanced” approach compared to a spending-cuts-only approach, according to The Washington Post. But regardless of any of the polls, the GOP really seems to be dead certain that Americans are done with talking about increasing taxes as part of any budget deal, and will not accept anything that includes such increases, even if they come from closing special-interest loopholes and eliminating certain deductions for higher-income people.
When it comes to who to blame should the sequester go into effect, both the Pew Center/USAToday poll and the Bloomberg poll show that Americans are more likely to blame the GOP for any negative effects of the sequester, even though the GOP constantly tries to blame Obama.
It should be clear to the GOP that they have their work cut out for them, with such a low approval rating. Granted, approval ratings aren’t overwhelmingly high for Democrats either, but they are higher than the Republicans’ in both polls.
An op-ed by Jac VerSteeg in the Palm Beach Post states that if Republicans are serious about the impending doom of the deficit and the sequester, they would favor tax increases and closing loopholes along with spending cuts, including to the Department of Defense, as a means of pulling spending under control. Meanwhile, Democrats should propose strong entitlement reforms coupled with requests for the increased tax revenue, in an effort to seek a real compromise with House Republicans. Obama has said that he’s open to certain changes, such as creating a cost-of-living formula for Social Security and raising the eligibility age for Medicare, in order to help bring spending under control. If nothing else, should Republicans reject that after screaming so loudly that these “entitlements” are the biggest drivers of the deficit rather than our bloated military budget, Republican intransigence would suddenly have a very bright and very uncomfortable spotlight on it.
There likely isn’t much that will bring the GOP out of their no-more-taxes-ever stance, however, putting them under such an uncomfortable microscope may, perhaps, loosen them up a bit. Getting blown out in the presidential election certainly didn’t.