Is Washington Tone Deaf When It Comes To Dealing With The Deficit?

Apr 13, 2011 12:04pm

Analysis by ABC News' Amy Walter:

The fact that the President, House Republicans and a bi-partisan group of Senators have all become intimately engaged on the country’s rising deficit problem is notable – and rare. Usually, it’s just one side or the other that’s willing to talk up “tough choices” that could imperil their political fortunes. Even so, in the pre-game political posturing taking place before the President’s speech this afternoon, both sides have fallen into the pitched political rhetoric and familiar battle lines that have defined our politics for years.

Speaker John Boehner this morning reiterated the long-held GOP talking point: Democrats want to raise your taxes. “ I’ll just say this: we can’t tax the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to create jobs. Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”

Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair-in-waiting Debbie Wasserman Schultz, meanwhile, called the GOP budget laid out by Rep. Paul Ryan “a death trap for seniors.”

If there’s anything that we’ve learned from the last few elections, however, it’s that voters who aren’t wearing a blue or a red jersey are growing tired of these well-worn arguments. One smart pollster told me the other day: "I am finding that Independents are tuning this stuff out more and more.  Same old, same old."

Just as important is the fact that while Washington debates the deficit, regular Americans are stressing much more about their day to day economic situation – namely rising gas and food prices. A recent poll by Pew found that 24 percent of Americans said the budget deficit was their economic concern, sixty-two percent picked the job situation (34 percent) or rising prices (28 percent) as their top worries.   In fact, notes Pew, while the number citing the deficit as their top economy worry had increased by five points since December, “concern over rising prices increased even more dramatically — from 15% in December to 28% in March.”

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