Either way, the Republican leaders of the House and Senate are wrong when they claim that the American people are clamoring for a reduction in federal spending and repeal of the healthcare reform act.
Nationwide exit polls conducted on Election Day, November 2nd, reveal that voters are divided evenly on these and other important issues.
During his line-in-the-sand speech to the Heritage Foundation last week, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, emboldened by the GOP’s historic election wins, declared that repealing the Healthcare Reform Act would be Senate Republicans’ number one legislative goal.
Ironically, exit polls show that only 18% of Americans believe that healthcare is the most important issue facing our nation. (For the overwhelming majority of us, 62%, the economy is the most urgent matter.)
And, in contrast to Republican claims, there is no tidal wave of voter outrage against the healthcare law. 48% of voters want the healthcare reform act repealed, but an almost equal number, 47%, say healthcare reform should be either left alone or expanded. So, at best Americans are divided – practically in half – over what to do with the new healthcare law.
The stats are similar on the subject of spending. 39% of exit poll respondents said that reducing the deficit should be the top priority of the new Congress. But 37% (again, an almost equal number) said that Congress’ top priority ought to be spending money to create jobs.
Those numbers are pretty much the same in Sen. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Voters there actually favor government spending over deficit reduction by a slim margin. 37% of Kentuckians say Washington should spend money to put people back to work. A slightly smaller number, 35% say the government should stop spending and concentrate on bringing down the deficit.
The Republicans are also wrong when they claim that voters strongly oppose stimulus spending. The American people are actually split into thirds on this issue. Exit polls show that 33% of us feel that the federal stimulus package hurt the economy. But 32% say it helped and another 32% say it had no effect.
What about the issue of taxes? Republicans rebuffed President Obama’s plan to preserve President Bush’s tax cuts for the middle class, while allowing income taxes for the wealthy to go back up to pre-Bush levels. The GOP insists that tax cuts should be kept in place for all Americans, even the rich; 39% of the American people agree with that. But 37% agree with President Obama that only people who earn less than $250,000 a year should have their taxes reduced.
The poll numbers paint a strikingly different picture of voters’ attitudes and priorities than Republican leaders claim. So, despite all of their gloating, posturing and pontificating in the wake of last week’s midterm elections, the Republicans simply do not have the mandates that they claim. Sen. McConnell, Rep. Boehner and their cohorts are dead wrong when they assert that a vast majority of Americans are demanding that government reduce spending, cut taxes and repealing healthcare reform. That’s the Republican Party agenda, not the agenda of most Americans.
So, President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill should feel no obligation to knuckle under and go along with the Republican program. On the contrary, they should stand firm on their convictions with the confidence that they are standing up for a large and significant segment of the American voting populace.
Thank you for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.
Watch Cameron Turner’s weekly television appearances on “The Filter with Fred Roggin” at www.NBCLA.com and read more “Turner’s Two Cents” on www.PasadenaJournal.com. Email Cameron at [email protected].