Monday, November 22, 2010

"We, The People..."

...ain't half as dumb as we look.
A few Sundays ago, the NY Times published an interactive US budgeting webpage. There, you could personalize your own 2011 Federal budget and try to reduce the deficit.
(For the record, I scored an $800 billion surplus by the year 2015, and a $2.6 trillion dollar surplus by 2030, all without major cuts to social programs or tax hikes on the middle class and working poor. But I digress...)
Well, over the weekend, the Times followed up with some startling, eye-opening statistics:

Reduce the size of the military rather than reduce pay for noncombat members of the military. Impose a millionaire’s tax rather than cut deductions for high-income households. Cap the growth of Medicare spending rather than raise the eligibility age...

The single least popular choice was allowing the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income below $250,000 a year. Fewer than 10 percent of the solutions included that option. But when it came to tax cuts for incomes above $250,000, people’s opinions appeared to diverge according to their political views. Those who preferred spending cuts — a conservative group, in all likelihood — generally wanted this tax cut to remain in place. Among those who closed the deficit mostly with tax increases — probably a liberal group — the expiration was the single most selected policy.

The most popular option among all respondents? Reducing the military to less than its size before the Iraq war — included in about 80 percent of the solutions posted to Twitter. But cutting pay and benefits for the military was a choice of only 40 percent.

It seems I was not alone.

Admittedly, this is not a scientific sample. Altho there were over one million page views, the Times was only able to analyze those people who either tweeted (ugh!) or posted links to their solutions. Furthermore, they culled only those solutions that saved at least $1.345 trillion from the 2030 projected deficit, thus creating a balanced budget. This cut the total size of the analysis to a population of about 7,000 people, from which only a thousand or so were able to successfully balance the budget by 2030. (Results here)

Twitter and, say, Facebook postings tend to skew younger, and younger usually means more liberal.

But check out the agreement with regards to taxes: a full 73% of respondents believed that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy ought to expire, and nearly the same percentage believed a new "millionaire's tax" should be imposed (by the way, great little piece of neurolingsuitic programming, that. A "millionaire's tax"...who could possibly object?)

Even the carbon tax saw a 6 out of ten choice. This means that not only did liberals choose these taxes, but that many conservatives did as well!

There's hope yet for this nation.