American Jobs Act: Over 70% Support Job Creation, So Why All the Deficit Screaming?

A large majority of Americans support government programs to encourage new hiring, finds a new Gallup poll. 79% support lower taxes for businesses that create jobs here, 77% support a federal infrastructure program, and 75% support the vaguely worded "a federal job creation law designed to create one million new jobs." This may be referring to the Bridge to Work program included in President Obama's American Jobs Act proposal, in which the federal government allows state governments to pay the salaries of newly hired employees at private companies while they are being trained. The other proposals were also included in the American Jobs Act proposal.

The new poll data point to Americans' continuing and unsurprising inconsistency regarding government spending, but add to the argument that Americans prioritize jobs over the deficit. Two thirds of Americans say deficit reduction is a top priority, and two thirds say Medicare and Social Security should be fiscally sound, and two thirds are willing to take a hit to the economy for deficit reduction now, but two thirds also say they don't want cuts to Medicare, Social Security, or education.

The new poll, of course, was not about the behemoths of the social welfare system, but about government spending intended to kick-start the economy. This, at least, is less logically incoherent. In a 2012 poll, three quarters of Americans said deficit reduction is very important and more than nine out of ten said job creation is very important. 58% supported job creation at the expense of the deficit, while only 41% supported deficit reduction at the expense of job creation. 67% of strong Republicans and 45% of moderate Republicans prioritized deficit reduction, while 73% of strong Democrats and 76% of moderate Democrats prioritized job creation. In a different poll, 49% of Americans said job creation is the most important issue, while 41% said deficit reduction. 

In the new poll, the numbers did not drop much with a variant of the question that explicitly said the government would spend money on the programs: 72% for both the infrastructure program and jobs law. The poll didn't ask this variant about the tax break as it's inherently obvious, though it still would have been worth asking, because isn't the rest obvious too?

93% of Democrats favored the jobs law, and 74% liked the tax break. 88% of Republicans approved of the tax break, and only 56% of the jobs law. Even when the question made explicit the government would spend money on the programs, majorities of every party supported all the components of the plan. Interestingly, Democrats dropped only one point on infrastructure and held steady on the law, while Republicans dropped ten points on infrastructure to 52%, and four points on the jobs law.

In the end, all the numbers add up to one thing, despite Republican rhetoric about the supreme importance of the deficit: Americans want jobs. We may say we want deficit reduction, but when it comes down to it, we're not willing to sacrifice job growth. Unfortunately, it seems that Congress is not representing the will of the people. Congress has not passed a single component of the American Jobs Act. Several components had a majority, but not a super-majority. Democracy inaction.

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