Another Reason Why Democrats Should Forget the Budget Deficit

Posted by: Michael Mandel on August 23

I always enjoy reading Ruy Teixeira’s posts on economics and politics. I’m just catching up with something he wrote in July, just before I went on vacation, entitled “It’s the (Message About the) Economy, Stupid”

He cites two polls on economic disatisfaction among voters. It’s worth pointing out that the budget deficit is relatively far down the list of voter concerns in both polls. For example, in the poll by Lake Snell Perry Mermin , only 6% chose the budget deficit as their top concern.

The pollsters go on to say that “Overall, Democrats continue to reap little benefit from Republican failures.” Could it be because the Democrats continue to obsess about the budget deficit, a problem which has relatively minor economic consequences and gives little political advantage?

If you don’t believe me about the deficit obsession, take a look at the site for the Democratic National Committee, which lists “fiscal responsibility” as one of the three main Democratic ideas for economic growth (the other two are ‘fair trade’ and ‘expanding economic opportunity’).

What’s more, the focus on the budget deficit deprives the Democrats of their biggest potential advantage, the support for government spending in a few key areas. The Lake-Snell poll shows that voters give their top support to these two statements:

We need to develop new, sustainable, and renewable energy sources to put us on the forefront of new economy and create energy independence

and

We need to invest in the best education system in the world in order to remain a super power.

Guess what? It’s far easier to do both of these if one is not obsessed by the budget deficit.

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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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