Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of “WND/WENZEL POLLS” conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
Voters across America are fed up with Washington’s behavior, don’t believe representatives are getting the message and may just respond with demands for a constitutional amendment that would wrap duct tape around the profligate spending habits in government, according to a new poll.
“An overwhelming 75 percent said they would favor a U.S. constitutional amendment requiring an annual balanced budget from the federal government,” said Fritz Wenzel, whose public-opinion research and media consulting company, Wenzel Strategies, conducted the poll.
It was a telephone survey conducted May 18-20 and has a margin of error of 3.01 percentage points.
He said voters jumped onto the bandwagon for GOP candidates in 2010 in Congress to send a message of restrained spending and no more borrowing, and now find that Washington hasn’t been listening all that well.
“This budget battle has become toxic not just in Washington but nationwide, as the country continues mired in a prolonged economic morass. In fact, because other polling shows a significant minority feels this country in general is headed in the right direction, it is very likely that the continuing bad economy has exacerbated the anger over Washington’s out-of-control spending,” he said.
“It could easily appear to the average U.S. taxpayer that leaders in D.C. just don’t understand what is going on in the rest of the country,” he said.
The poll revealed that 47.1 percent of all voters say Washington is giving them a “poor” value for their money, and another 27.6 percent said the value is “only fair.” The results cut across demographics, with Democrats having the most optimistic outlook. But even there, nearly 59 percent said the federal government’s value was “only fair” or “poor.”
Among the GOP respondents, almost 89 percent could not agree to rating the government’s value as excellent or good, and among independents that was more than 77 percent.
“Last November, voters across the nation sent a clear message to national lawmakers that they wanted solutions to out-of-control spending and government growth. Five months into the new Congress, national discontent appears stronger than ever on the federal government’s budgetary failures,” Wenzel said.
“This is a clear repudiation of the prevailing leadership in Washington, and sets up an interesting political dynamic as Democrats and Republicans prepare to fight the final battles over whether or not to increase the limit on how much the national government can borrow to pay its bills,” he said.
“Given three options on how to deal with the federal debt limit, the Republican approach appears to have the most public support, as 64 percent of likely voters nationwide said government spending should be cut to stay below the current debt limit. Another 10 percent said the debt limit should be increased to keep the nation solvent, while 18 percent favored increasing taxes to help pay federal bills,” Wenzel said.
He said on that question, however, there was “a dramatic disconnect” between Democrats and “everyone else.”
“While 84 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents said government spending must be cut to stay below the debt limit, just 39 percent of Democrats agreed with that approach. Among Democrats, 35 percent said taxes should be raised, while just three percent of Republicans and 15 percent of independents agreed with that approach,” he said.
“For all of the denigration the so-called tea party members have suffered in the past two years at the hands of the Democrats, the idea that Americans are ‘Taxed Enough Already’ – the core complaint of the tea partiers – clearly resonates across the country,” he warned.
Americans have a sizeable concern over whether the federal debt will hurt the U.S. economy in the coming months, too. More than 55 percent said they are very concerned about the situation; another 27 percent said they are somewhat concerned. Only one in 20 was “not at all concerned.”
The federal spending apparently played a role in this question too.
“There was a significant difference in perception depending on a respondent’s source of income, as 61 percent of private sector workers were very concerned, compared to just 43 percent of public sector workers who said the same thing,” reported Wenzel.
Three in four respondents also opposed printing new money to pay off the federal debt, but Democrats who favor the idea outnumbered Republicans to liked the idea of a flood of cash more than 3-1.
A majority of 56 percent said they are not optimistic the present Washington leaders “will agree on a plan to put the nation back on a path to responsible government spending,” the poll showed.
The poll showed that if a solution is not accomplished, 43 percent of the respondents will blame Democrats, 36 percent will blame Republican leaders in the House.
Wenzel said the difference between what happened in 2010, when the GOP took majority control of the House and made significant advances in the Senate, and in 1994, when Republicans swept into power in both houses, is the economy.
“Then , the economy was on the rebound after what was a very short economic downturn. Now, we are deep into the third year of a massive economic recession. As a result, there is a deep hunger across the country for some serious and dramatic changes in how Washington conducts business, and yet Washington appears largely unaware. There are some bold steps taken – Republican Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is the most notable – but that plan has been panned by some who apparently fear voter backlash from deep federal cuts,” Wenzel said.
“This polling data indicate, however, that the backlash that could sweep across Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year may stem from government’s failure to take bold steps.
An independent grassroots lobbying effort launched by WND founder Joseph Farah, called the “No More Red Ink” campaign, already has sent some million letters to House Republicans calling on them to oppose any rise in the debt limit, thus shutting off the spigot for more spending beyond the government’s revenues.
Though there has been little discussion about it in the national media or even on Capitol Hill, House Republicans hold all the cards on denying a debt-limit increase. With control of the House, they need only 218 votes against it to freeze borrowing and force the federal government to begin living within its means immediately.
Since approval of both houses of Congress is required to raise the debt limit, this is one of the very few meaningful actions the Republican-controlled House can take without the consent of the Senate or the White House, Farah says.
He has called it the Republicans’ “secret weapon.”