Truth is, the American people don’t know what they want

There’s a lot of fodder for thought and debate in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. But I’ll pick three questions in particular to start the evening conversation. The first involves the attitudes of President Obama and the Republican Party regarding business.

q24

The second addresses the federal deficit and how it might be reduced. It’s easy to criticize our political leaders for refusing to tackle the issue seriously, but these poll results suggest that they’re merely reflecting the lack of seriousness among their constituents they represent. Mathematically, the only way to make serious progress on the spending side of the ledger is to start hacking at entitlements and defense, but 70 percent say they’re uncomfortable with that approach.

The other half of the equation is of course revenue. Fifty-nine percent say they’re uncomfortable with trying to close the deficit by increasing taxes. If you’re a politician, the message from the folks back home is that you can’t cut spending and you can’t raise taxes but you better cut the deficit.

Which is why, I suppose, we get treated to political grandstanding on an earmark ban, which will save a total of $16 billion a year. The public demands that something be done, and that nothing be done, which leaves theater the only option.

As U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., points out, ”Our problems are worsening at a rate of $8 billion a day — so earmarks represent basically two days of our problem. It’s almost impossible for people to comprehend. When I talk even to sophisticated audiences and try to clue them in, they react like kids being told a bedtime story. They want to know, ‘Where’s the happy ending?’ ”

q32

In the third question, Americans are asked about their feelings toward various political figures and institutions. The results suggest that the intense animosity directed at the president from the right is largely contained there, bouncing around in the conservative echo chamber. Overall, Obama’s approval rating in the poll matches his disapproval rating, at 47 percent.

summary

321 comments Add your comment

josef nix

November 18th, 2010
5:04 pm

OOOOHHHH Charts! That’s what I want! :-)

Bye Bye Empire

November 18th, 2010
5:13 pm

“The public demands that something be done, and that nothing be done, which leaves theater the only option.”

And Zarathustra nodded and blinked.

BlahBlahBlah

November 18th, 2010
5:14 pm

Earmarks are a gateway drug. That is why they must be eliminated.

Kamchak

November 18th, 2010
5:14 pm

They want to know, ‘Where’s the happy ending?’ ”

“The massage parlor” immediately leaps to mind.

Doggone/GA

November 18th, 2010
5:17 pm

“Earmarks are a gateway drug. That is why they must be eliminated”

Eliminating most earmarks would not reduce the deficit one penny. Most of them are to direct the distribution of money that has ALREADY been approved to be spent. All the earmarks do is say for WHAT that money will be spent.

Adam

November 18th, 2010
5:18 pm

I don’t really think congress has recently cared too much about what the public actually wants.

On another note, it looks like the numbers favor tax increases more than cutting spending, i.e. less people are uncomfortable about it. Also the questions should probably be pieced out a little. People will likely focus on the one thing in the question that makes them uncomfortable and stick with that.

md

November 18th, 2010
5:18 pm

Looks like the dems didn’t see your charts before voting nancy back in…..they may want a do over.

Funny, a while back I was pooh-poohed for mentioning the large debt over and over and now it is so bad we can’t even comprehend it………………..

saywhat?

November 18th, 2010
5:18 pm

“The public demands that something be done, and that nothing be done, which leaves theater the only option”

Your premise is correct, but your conclusion – “theater the only option” – is erroneous. The only option is to elect a super majority Republican House and Senate and a Republican President. They will be able to fix everything by doing more of what caused the problem in the first place, while simultaneously stopping everything that didn’t cause the problem. Its economics 101, really. Then when the failure reaches even more epic proportions, they can blame the next elected Democratic President for not preventing it.

Adam

November 18th, 2010
5:20 pm

I correct myself. I meant congress hasn’t cared about what the public wants in the Bush years, and then didn’t care about what the public SAID they wanted in the Obama years. Health care reform they wanted, and the evil demonized ACA is what they didn’t want (because it was completely misunderstood due to misinformation). This is still too much of a generality but the point I am making is congress in general doesn’t seem to pay much attention to polls.

Jefferson

November 18th, 2010
5:20 pm

The GOP is who cause the mess, you kids learn nothing just memorize your lines.

Joe the Plutocrat (the artist formerly known as paleo-neo-Carlinist)

November 18th, 2010
5:21 pm

embrace the plutocracy!

Adam

November 18th, 2010
5:21 pm

saywhat?, I enjoyed that comment :D

josef nix

November 18th, 2010
5:21 pm

K’chak

There’s your Econ 101 card! :-)

Doggone/GA

November 18th, 2010
5:22 pm

“Then when the failure reaches even more epic proportions, they can blame the next elected Democratic President for not preventing it.”

Why is that NOT “theater”? Sound like it is to ME!

md

November 18th, 2010
5:23 pm

“Mathematically, the only way to make serious progress on the spending side of the ledger is to start hacking at entitlements and defense, but 70 percent say they’re uncomfortable with that approach.”

Of course, we had to get one more big entitlement program on the books before we can get serious about cutting them all………makes sense………to someone…………

josef nix

November 18th, 2010
5:26 pm

What does the public really want? Bread and circuses. The politicians give us plenty of the latter and so far we’re not having to stand in lines for the former, so I’d posit all is well in Canaan…

Jay

November 18th, 2010
5:26 pm

you’re right, MD, that unpaid-for prescription drug benefit really put it over the top.

Jefferson

November 18th, 2010
5:28 pm

You know what this country needs is a “get even day”

One day a year, anyone who has been wronged during the year will be allowed to “get even”.

Do you think people would wrong someone if they knew “get even” day was comeing?

Scout

November 18th, 2010
5:31 pm

“Truth is, the American people don’t know what they want.”

But ……………… they know what they ‘DON’T WANT’ and that’s OBAMA !

md

November 18th, 2010
5:31 pm

“you’re right, MD, that unpaid-for prescription drug benefit really put it over the top.”

Yep, that one didn’t help either.

Let’s look over at Greece and France and soon to be others………….how many programs are left when there is no money for any of them??

Or, what good is buying car # 6,and 7 when one couldn’t afford 1-5?? In the end, how many cars do we get to keep??

Doggone/GA

November 18th, 2010
5:32 pm

BTW Jay…I disagree with your headline. I think the American public knows WHAT they want, they just don’t know how they want the medicine to get it delivered.

Joe the Plutocrat (the artist formerly known as paleo-neo-Carlinist)

November 18th, 2010
5:32 pm

you know what’s funny about defense spending? from whom do we need to be “defended”? who is going to “invade” the USA? seems to me the biggest threat to the United States is Washington, DC.

saywhat?

November 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

Doggone/GA @ 5:22- Perhaps your sarcasm detector is malfunctioning?

Adam @ 5:21- Thank you.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

And this is where a strong statesman needs to come in with some common sense and say what is actually needed without regard to political ramifications:

We need to cut spending, and we need to cut it in the largest areas which are Social Security, Medicare, and Defense. It won’t be easy, and some people may struggle in the short term, but it will be better for our country.

We also need to redo our tax system. Whether that means letting ALL Bush tax cuts expire or getting rid of the IRS completely, either way, there will be pain here also for a great number of people.

And while we are doing this, reducing government results in many people not having jobs. Less money is moving through the government to pay things like wages for researchers, scientists, and farmers. This results in less payments to those who build lab equipment, those who build tractors, and those who build rockets. So at the same time we are reducing the government we need to increase the job market in the Public arena.

I’m looking at you big businesses who are hoarding so much money right now. Spend it to hire all these unemployed, and the future unemployed workers who will be coming OUT of the government’s paycheck.

Alas, I haven’t seen any politician say this yet.
There are no more statesmen

Scout

November 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

“Truth is, the American people don’t know what they want”

But ……………. they know what they DON’T WANT and that’s OBAMA !

md

November 18th, 2010
5:34 pm

“Do you think people would wrong someone if they knew “get even” day was comeing?”"

There will always be those that feel they are special and the law does not apply……….

RW-(the original)

November 18th, 2010
5:37 pm

Has a pollster ever asked if we the people think Social Security, Medicare, and Defense spending could be cut by eliminating waste and fraud without having to cut actual preparedness or services?

I bet there would be a pretty high affirmative to that one and then the next question would be, would you be willing to eliminate the waste and fraud.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:38 pm

Scout,
And amazingly, they don’t seem to know “why”! Just very generic ramblings about “don’t like change” and stuff.

That’s what amazes me from those who ramble on about Obama, but don’t clearly state why. He’s not perfect by any means, but he certainly isn’t the downfall to the country people try to make him out to be.

Doggone/GA

November 18th, 2010
5:38 pm

“Do you think people would wrong someone if they knew “get even” day was comeing?””

If you wrong them by killing them…they can’t retaliate.

saywhat?

November 18th, 2010
5:38 pm

Scout @ 5:31- How considerate of you to decide for the other 299,999,999 Americans what they don’t want. All along, I thought what they didn’t want was more of the likes of you. Go figure.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:39 pm

RW – but then you’d have to hire contractors to detect the fraud. And that means . . . wait for it. . . spending more money!
But I agree, paying out a million in salaries to watchdogs to save a hundred million in fraud would be a great investment.

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
5:43 pm

Truth is, the American people don’t know what they want

About damn time somebody spoke the truth. If it were not more obvious, 47% thinks Obama’s policies are about right and 41% think that for Republican policies. Unless Obama is a closet Republican, there’s some serious partisan disconnect going on in this country. We are no longer the economic king we once were. We’re either going to have to swallow the red pill or the blue pill. It’s decision time…

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
5:44 pm

They want to know, ‘Where’s the happy ending?’ ”

“The massage parlor” immediately leaps to mind.

:shock:

Andy

November 18th, 2010
5:44 pm

America is very good at regurgitating misinformation. Critical thinking has gone AWOL.

WillieRae

November 18th, 2010
5:46 pm

Great article Jay. Does not square up with the election that we just held. Not that I blame you for trying to find something…anything… else to think about.
If you think that people voted out an historically large number of democrats becasue they like Obama then you have many surprises ahead.

Matti

November 18th, 2010
5:46 pm

Logical Dude,

I was just looking at my Congressman’s facebook page. People are posting their demand that he do whatever he can to impeach the President. Now. Because they know the Constitution… (hahahaha!) Obama should be marched out in handcuffs, yet, no charge or violation is offered as a reason. Apparently, thinking he’s a jerk who’s ruining our country should be enough to overturn the electorate’s decision. I mean, they SAID so. ‘Nuff said. Heh.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:48 pm

SoCo says “We’re either going to have to swallow the red pill or the blue pill”

And this either or is what most of the country is mistaken about. You DON’T HAVE to choose the red pill or the blue pill. Neither has delivered what is needed up to this point.

We need an orange pill or a pink pill or something else. There are answers right there, but neither the blue side nor the red side want to say it out loud and take responsibility for it. It’s just not “politically popular”.

marky mark

November 18th, 2010
5:50 pm

I think everyone agrees earmarks are not much of a reduction. But they are a symbol of what the voting population seems to want. Deficit reduction, but not too fast. I think this is one of those “toes in the water” action. If this works, try another step…..I also think this is what Obama misunderstood….hope right now is good, but change slowly…..

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:51 pm

Matti,
I would blame that on the “extremely small but loud” minority. It is where good movement start, but also where some bad ideas take root.

It’s the silent majority, who are too busy working paycheck to paycheck to post things like that on facebook. It’s why I can barely post until the end of the day! Gotta work!

Wish I had more time to post common sense ramblings, but I wish more to keep my job!

AmVet

November 18th, 2010
5:54 pm

Q24c And in your view are the policies of the Republican Party too anti-working American family, too pro-working American family or about right?

Too anti-working American family………………………..89%
Too pro-working American family…………………………. 3%
About right………………………………………………………8%

Let them eat cake…

marky mark

November 18th, 2010
5:54 pm

@kamchak – “love you long time”

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
5:55 pm

Logical Dude

That was a reference to The Matrix. We can either continue to live in the dream world, or we can open our eyes and deal with the real world.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:55 pm

dang it, all this hunching over the keyboard is exhausting. I think I need a massage.

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
5:56 pm

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
5:56 pm

SoCo,
I recognized the reference, but interpreted it incorrectly. Thanks for the clarification!

Bye Bye Empire

November 18th, 2010
5:56 pm

“Unless Obama is a closet Republican, there’s some serious partisan disconnect going on in this country”

And here ended the first discourse of Zarathustra.

AmVet

November 18th, 2010
5:58 pm

John Boehner has a rating of plus 2 in the positive/negative category?

What the ____?!

I want to see the paper trail and the hanging chads!

Dusty

November 18th, 2010
5:59 pm

Oh whoopee…I missed the Sarah Palin smudgeout but I get the meaningless charts. on what America doesn’t know what it wants. Sure, America got all spoiled and voted in their precious guy and now they see what they got. No wonder they are afraid to move. IT MIGHT HAPPEN AGAIN!!!

So let’s just sing “happy days are here again” and assume that debt never killed anybody. Just starved ‘em to death.
.

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
5:59 pm

No problem…

retired early

November 18th, 2010
6:02 pm

So, I guess we get to see who are the true LEADERS. This is when our leaders need to “jump in the water” together and quit blaming each other. The Voting public is going to object to anything that is done because they are pretty uninformed on the issues thank to Faux news etc. so just do what needs to be done .

RW-(the original)

November 18th, 2010
6:02 pm

The phony 24c notwithstanding I wonder why a and b were asked like this. We have a question asked about President Obama and the same question about the Republican Party. Why not the same question about the Democrat(ic) Party?

md

November 18th, 2010
6:02 pm

“I bet there would be a pretty high affirmative to that one and then the next question would be, would you be willing to eliminate the waste and fraud.”

Well, if Obama actually turned down IBM as it’s ceo says he did, I say not willing.

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/your-world-cavuto/transcript/ibm-ceo-administration-turned-down-free-offer-hunt-out-health-care-abuse

And yes, it is Fox, but the interview is with a big dem, Zuckerman.

I’d certainly like to hear the other side of the story………..

Dusty

November 18th, 2010
6:03 pm

AmVet,

John Boehner is a nice guy. Why don’t you try it sometime?

Kamchak

November 18th, 2010
6:04 pm

@kamchak – “love you long time”

I certainly am flattered, but I’m saving myself for Summer Glau.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
6:04 pm

AmVet,
That may be because almost nobody’s heard of John Boehner until recently. I really have no opinion of him since I’ve only heard conflicting information about him. One day I hear he wants absolutely no compromise, then later I read that he said that some compromise will be necessary. So, being too busy to keep track of all the politicians, I have no real opinion other than “If he thinks that we as a nation can proceed without any compromises, he’s pretty clueless; but I’m willing to find out more”

BADA BING

November 18th, 2010
6:04 pm

Guys, don’t swallow the blue pill if you are alone.

ty webb

November 18th, 2010
6:05 pm

Perhaps Algore could locate that missing happy ending?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

November 18th, 2010
6:05 pm

Retired E…. I agree. Do the right thing. Not always easy but there are a lot of hypocrites who know that they are merely pandering.

Matti

November 18th, 2010
6:09 pm

We can either continue to live in the dream world, or we can open our eyes and deal with the real world.

Warning: Opening your eyes may cause redness, itching, headaches, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and a complete loss of faith in your fellow human beings and the God they claim to worship.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
6:09 pm

Sorry Kamchak,
Summer Glau is mine! I’m sure she . . .

Okay, no more “Happy Ending” jokes for me!

What I meant to say was “Summer Glau for President!” Yeah! That’s the ticket!

BADA BING

November 18th, 2010
6:10 pm

Want to cut entitlements? Start a program that prevents someone from getting SS if they have spent a certain number of years on welfare or other Gov’t programs. Make the freeloaders think twice about staying on the Gov’t dole for a lifetime.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
6:11 pm

Matti, & Bada Bing,
(from the blue pill bottle)
And if there is stiffness for more than four hours, call your doctor!

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
6:11 pm

Warning: Opening your eyes may cause redness, itching, headaches, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and a complete loss of faith in your fellow human beings and the God they claim to worship.

LMAO!!! Damned side effects will get’cha every time.

Dusty

November 18th, 2010
6:12 pm

RW, 6:02

Doncha know? This is a liberal opinion blog and only “loaded” charts are presented. Now get your ducks in a row . We don’t want you tossed overboard to the sharks.

Southern Comfort

November 18th, 2010
6:13 pm

And if there is stiffness for more than four hours, call your doctor!

Nah, more like the guys in the car commercial. “Forget calling my doctor, hold all my calls…”

md

November 18th, 2010
6:13 pm

For those too afraid to open a link because it came from Fox:

“SAMUEL J. PALMISANO, CHAIRMAN & CEO, IBM: We could have improved the quality and reduced the cost of the health care system by $900 billion. I said we would do it for free to prove that it works. They turned us down.”

AmVet

November 18th, 2010
6:16 pm

Speaking of Al Gore, where is that slippery little williebekind?

I’ve asked him a couple of times for that “Internet quote” he referenced/misquoted earlier today?

I guess the oft-parroted lie bout it is more interesting to him and his factually challenged cousins…

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
6:16 pm

md,
Was there a reason? Any comment from anyone else regarding this? There could be many reasons, but very few legitimate ones that I can think of.

retired early

November 18th, 2010
6:16 pm

Scout
Your a one man pep rally.
You don’t deserve Obama. He’s way too smart for you. Maybe that’s your problem, you are jealous that this Black president is sooo much smarter than you and Your precious lightweight Bush.
Get a life or change the subject.

Matti

November 18th, 2010
6:17 pm

“Summer Glau for President”

She’s got my vote!

Dusty

November 18th, 2010
6:17 pm

Well, I’m off to fix dinner while I’m wondering who in the world is Summer Glau????? Summer glau and sommer not??

md

November 18th, 2010
6:19 pm

“And if there is stiffness for more than four hours, call your doctor!”

I end up with that “problem”, I won’t be calling any doctors……..maybe play doctor.

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
6:20 pm

google “Summer Glau” at xkcd.com; much fun ensues.

enjoy your evening folks, and think about what you want as an American!

Kamchak

November 18th, 2010
6:21 pm

Sorry Kamchak,
Summer Glau is mine! I’m sure she . . .

That’s not what she said last night….

Logical Dude

November 18th, 2010
6:21 pm

Dusty,
She played various odd characters in mostly short-lived series. She is a former ballerina who usually plays kick-ass characters. So, she’s pretty, she’s flexible, and she can beat up a whole town without breaking a sweat.

Matti

November 18th, 2010
6:22 pm

Uh…. my bad. It’s *River Tam* (the character played by Summer Glau in the eff-the-fascist-establishment sci-fi series) who’d get my vote.

Paul

November 18th, 2010
6:22 pm

I wish politicians would follow the Pelosi model: exhort your fellow lawmakers to take one for the team. Cast the right vote. Even if it means you won’t get reelected (and many didn’t) you will, she said, know you did the right thing.

She did it on health care. She can do it on this.

Can’t she?

josef/Doggone/GA

Note downstairs. Not ignoring you – doorbelll ringing and getting ribs on.

md

November 18th, 2010
6:22 pm

“Was there a reason? Any comment from anyone else regarding this? There could be many reasons, but very few legitimate ones that I can think of.”

Have yet to see one. Would love to see anything if anyone has anything on the subject. I find it just as interesting that we don’t hear anything.

And Zuckerman says he was privy to the info, so that peeked my interest.

Doggone/GA

November 18th, 2010
6:24 pm

Paul – no problem, happens to us all

Scout

November 18th, 2010
6:25 pm

Logical Dude

Agree to disagree. Thanks for the post.

Scout

November 18th, 2010
6:27 pm

say what and retired early :

You guys hurt my feelings.

Boo Hoo Hoo …………………………

Paul

November 18th, 2010
6:27 pm

md

That was a heckuva thought-provoking interview.

Summer Glau? Be nice or she’ll terminate you -

Scout

November 18th, 2010
6:29 pm

And another person they don’t want is “Janet Incompatino”. (radio)

BADA BING

November 18th, 2010
6:29 pm

If it lasts longer than 4 hours call a doctor. Only if she is pretty !

BADA BING

November 18th, 2010
6:32 pm

If it lasts longer than 4 hours, I am not calling a Dr. I am calling all my old girl friends and rub it in.(Pun intended).

josef nix

November 18th, 2010
6:38 pm

PAUL

Got ya downstairs…no problem, I’m bouncing back and forth between here and Africa..! International Dinner coming up and I’m trying to pull together some poster-work…thank G-d for the gifts of old National Geographics for cut and paste!

md

November 18th, 2010
6:44 pm

Paul – And that was a month ago…………..and we hear nothing??

Something sounds fishy.

F. Sinkwich

November 18th, 2010
6:48 pm

So what’s the point of this, Jay?

How to get Jay excited:

Ask questions of 1000 randomly selected Americans designed to invoke responses favorable to liberal positions. Get liberal results. Celebrate a 49% approval rating for the Messiah as justification for his democratic-socialist polices.

Please get real, Jay.

Thanks.

Adam

November 18th, 2010
6:48 pm

It wouldn’t surprise me that the administration does not say yes to a big corporation doing any sort of leg work for the government. Of course the fact that Fox reported this in that way indicates they are just trying to imply that this means the government isn’t serious about waste.

editorializer

November 18th, 2010
6:49 pm

Doggone/GA@5:32 pm
BTW Jay…I disagree with your headline. I think the American public knows WHAT they want, they just don’t know how they want the medicine to get it delivered.
———————————–

break out the KY jelly, its a suppository lol

Adam

November 18th, 2010
6:50 pm

F. Sinkwich: Liberal results? Where? An approval rating that’s higher than you expected? Is that your only evidence? I can remember a couple of weeks ago when people were going on and on about how 40-something approval ratings were the WORST OF ANY PRESIDENT EVER. What a short memory you all have if you believe that.

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 18th, 2010
6:53 pm

I would disagree with the headline. The American people know exactly what they want; it’s just that they have 300 million different ideas about what that should be. That’s where the rub comes in.

F. Sinkwich

November 18th, 2010
6:56 pm

Adam,

Please see the election results from two weeks ago. That’s a real “poll.” I know it hurts, but that’s life.

You’re welcome.

md

November 18th, 2010
6:57 pm

“Of course the fact that Fox reported this in that way indicates they are just trying to imply that this means the government isn’t serious about waste.”

And I would agree with that assessment IF Mr Zuckerman hadn’t concurred. He certainly doesn’t fit the Fox mold. So….how would you explain that aspect of the equation??

AmVet

November 18th, 2010
6:58 pm

To put things in perspective, even after the past election, the Republicans are not even back to being where they were in 2006!!

That’s how bad those back to back slaughters were.

The legacy of unbridled Republican socialism and income redistribution…

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 18th, 2010
7:00 pm

md

I listened to your link and found it interesting.

F. Sinkwich

November 18th, 2010
7:00 pm

Oh, by the way, Adam, Obama hasn’t earned the “worst president ever” mantle yet. But he’s in the bottom five.

Two years to go — he still has hope to get there!

md

November 18th, 2010
7:02 pm

“To put things in perspective, even after the past election, the Republicans are not even back to being where they were in 2006!!

That’s how bad those back to back slaughters were.”

OK Am, your math is confusing……….back to back slaughters covered a 4 year period, while this gain only covered a two year period………comparing apples to oranges are we??

F. Sinkwich

November 18th, 2010
7:03 pm

“the Republicans are not even back to being where they were in 2006!!”

AmVet nailed the liberal rallying cry for 2012!

Adam

November 18th, 2010
7:04 pm

F. Sinkwich: So in other words the answer is yes, an approval rating that’s higher than you expected 2 weeks after the election is your only evidence that the poll must be liberal.

Thank you. No further questions. You may step down now.