Mixed Messages on the Deficit

The federal budget deficit is a growing problem for Americans, with a stream of mixed messages from voters. Most describe it as a crisis – outpacing even unemployment – but there is little consensus on where to cut the fat.

Spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and President Obama’s stimulus are viewed as the leading causes of the exploding budget deficit. But when push comes to shove, voters recognize the necessity of deficit spending during a recession. A majority want the stimulus spent as planned to create jobs rather than returned to pay down the deficit. But the risks of inaction are real. More voters in the latest Democracy Corps poll co-sponsored with Tulane University continue to blame former President Bush rather than Obama for the state of the deficit, but Obama’s advantage is narrowing as he assumes more responsibility for the economy. He continues to get mixed reviews on his economic policies; just as many see them averting a crisis as see them adding to the deficit without creating jobs.

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