Americans Want to Cut Spending and Avoid Spending Cuts Simultaneously

This is not earth-shattering news, but via Kevin Drum a new Democracy Corps poll (PDF) asking voters to name their top two policy priorities serves once again to remind us that there is no coherent budget strategy you can read off the face of poll responses.

Most people are probably unaware of the extent to which fully protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from cuts makes “reducing the federal deficit and government spending” nearly impossible over the long term. But for the medium term, sequestration has done the trick. Basically everything that’s not Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is taking a big cut, but those programs are in solid shape. Unfortunately this set of policy priorities tends to underinvest in children, underinvest in infrastructure, and by neglecting to move us rapidly toward full employment, it also encourages the private sector to underinvest in physical and human capital.