Polls show that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to GOP proposals to start hacking away at Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in order to cut deficits, Instead, voters favor raising taxes on the wealthy.
Eighty percent of Americans oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. Just 18 percent agree with approach approved by most House Republicans.
In contrast, 64 percent of Americans back using tax hikes for the rich to balance budgets, while just 33 percent oppose.
But voters aren’t just telling it to the pollsters. They are telling it to Republican members of the House and Senate.
Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, continues to be confronted with tough questions on his listening-session tour of southeastern Wisconsin communities. He’s been forced to move several of the events to bigger venues to accommodate the crowds—after things got tight and tense in places such at Milton, Wisconsin, where the crowd in a small venue was challenging him at every turn.
This is an interesting twist, as it suggests that we are beginning to see a phenomenon where progressives are showing up to challenge conservatives—in much the way that Tea Partisans showed up at town hall meetings organized by Democratic congressmen and women in 2009. One of Ryan’s Republican colleagues, Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, shut down a town hall meeting in a suburban Milwaukee community when he was challenged on economic issues in March. And Republican House members in other states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, have faced tough sessions.
The core issues that are bringing people out to the GOP town meetings are opposition to Medicare and Medicaid cuts (a real hot-button issue) and support for tax hikes for the rich. This fits with those national polls shows that show Americans are very opposed to developing voucher programs to replace traditional Medicare and Medicaid and would prefer tax hikes for the wealthy.
So what should Republicans do?
Newly elected Illinois Senator Mark Kirk has an idea. Instead of hearing what the people have to say, the Republican senator is suggesting that members of Congress should hunker down in DC.
“Ideally the Senate would have not taken a two-week break,” Kirk said on CBS’s Face the Nation. Instead, the senator says, Congress should be advancing Ryan’s agenda.
But if that agenda is so unpopular, isn’t it a good idea that members of the House and Senate are getting an earful from the voters—rather than the inside-the-Beltway lobbyists for the Wall Street speculators and insurance-industry profiteers who seem to be the only backers of Ryan’s schemes to mangle Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?