Progressive Groups: Polls Show Deficit Panic Is Republican Illusion

A day after House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) confirmed that cuts to Medicare are a part of deficit reduction negotiations, progressives are out with new polling they say shows Democrats falling into a Republican trap.

The fresh numbers from Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Minnesota jibe with what national polls have shown in the past: Americans are far more concerned about job creation than they are about deficit reduction. Progressives say that shows Democrats should be leaving the deficit panic to the GOP and getting back to an agenda that protects entitlements and stimulates job growth.The deficit polling is the latest round of results from a string of Public Policy Polling (D) surveys sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, and CREDO Action.

The left-wing groups say the polls show that Democrats facing potentially tough reelection fights in swing states would be wise to stick closely to a progressive agenda that emphasizes job creation and the protection of entitlement programs over the conservative cry to cut deeply and cut now.

Progressives have called on Democrats to fight for increased taxes on the rich instead of engaging in the talk of cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits in order to keep the entitlement programs afloat. They worry their message is falling on deaf ears as the Obama administration and Congress negotiate a deficit reduction scheme.

“Talking about ‘deficit reduction’ is right-wing framing intended to keep Democrats from addressing what voters really care about: Investing in jobs and protecting Medicare and Social Security,” Adam Green, a co-founder of PCCC, said in an email. “When Democrats like Dick Durbin and Steny Hoyer propose cutting billions from Medicare and raising the retirement age, they are playing into Republican hands and asking Democrats up in 2012 to walk the plank.”

Each poll surveyed more than 1000 likely voters in late April and early May and has margin of error of around 3%:

What do you think should be a higher priority for Congress: creating jobs or reducing the deficit?

Ohio: 56% jobs, 35% deficit
Missouri: 56% jobs, 34% deficit
Montana: 45% jobs, 45% deficit
Minnesota: 50% jobs, 39% deficit

As Democrats gear up for 2012 electoral battles in each of the states surveyed, progressives say the polling sends a clear message: stand up to the GOP agenda or suffer the consequences.

“Rather than engaging the Republican obsession with the deficit and destroying our social safety net,” said Charles Chamberlain, political director at DFA, “the President and Democrats would be much better off listening to what voters in swing states are telling them: Focus on jobs, and don’t cut popular programs.”