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Are new progressive policies needed?
Or should we return to the past?

Recommendations of the Simpson/Bowles Commission,
Why hasn't Congress acted upon it?

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Voters distrust Congress, especially Republican leaders

As the country persistently lingers in recession, people distrust Washington and especially leaders of both parties.
However, Congressional Republicans persist in sticking to their dogma of "No tax increases" and refuse to make any compromises to reduce high unemployment and to drive down the long-term deficit.

Poll after poll shows that the disapproval of the Republicans in Congress is steadily growing. Most recently, the ORC conducted a poll of 1,019 adult Americans, randomly selected by telephone, on November 18-20.
ORC is an international Opinion Research Council based in England. Here are the responses to some of their questions, compared with results from a similar surveys in March.
Date Approve Disapprove No opinion
Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Republican leaders in Congress are handling their job?
November 18-20, 2011 21% 77% 2%
March 18-20, 2011 34% 64% 3%
Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Democratic leaders in Congress are handling their job?
November 18-20, 2011 29% 68% 3%
March 18-20, 2011 35% 62% 3%
In a breakdown of results to the November questions, men disapproved of the Republican leaders by a few percentage points more than women, and was highest in the 35 to 64 year old age groups, The same held true for disapproval of the Democratic leadership.
Noticably, even among Republican responders the disapproval rating of Republican leaders was 54%. Among Democratic responders the disapproval of Democrat leaders was only 35%. Among Independents, the disapproval rating of Republicans was 81%, of Democrat leaders 76% - not a significant difference. In the age group 18-34, dissaproval of Republicans was 73%, Democrats 58%.

The United States Congress, on August 2, 2011 created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, generally referred to as the Supercommittee. Composed of 12 members,3 from each party in the Senate and the House, its assignment was to come up by November 23 with a plan for at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction steps to be undertaken over a ten year period.
In the above mentioned poll by ORC, the respondents were asked if they thought that each of the following should or should not be included in that proposal. The results were as follows:

Question Should Should not No opinion
Increases in taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans 67% 32% 1%
Major cuts in spending on domestic government programs 60% 39% 1%
Major changes to the Social Security and Medicare systems 41% 57% 2%
Major cuts in military spending 40% 60% 0
Increases in taxes on middle class and lower-income Americans 12% 88% 0
This same poll was also run August 5 - 7, 2011 by ORC. At that time the "Should" percentages were lower by several points than in November for all questions except "Cuts in military spending".
Other agencies ran similar polls during September and October, all with similar results.
The conclusion is obvious, American voters want higher taxes on high incomes, they do not want higher taxes on middle-class and low-income families. They also want cuts in government spending, but not on Medicare and Social Security.

A group of about 40 Congressional Republicans, lead by Steven LaTourette of Ohio, together with a similar number of Democrats, sent a letter to the Supercomittee, demanding that they include tax increases to enable a solution to the Debt crisis. Some 200 millionaires made a similar request. However, the Republican members of the Supercommittee stubbornly stuck to their dogma of no revenue increase. On November 21, the chairmen of the Committee issued a statement "After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline.". Predictably, the stock market took a nose dive, wiping out another couple of percentage points from Americans' pension funds.

Early in 2010 Pres. Obama had appointed a Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to study ways to reduce the chronic deficit and issue a report. This committee consisted of 19 Representatives and Senators from both parties, as well as executives from industry and the labor unions. On November 10, 2010, the co-chairmen, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, released a list of recommendations to be a basis for the final report and for congressional discussions with a total of possible deficit reduction of up to $4 Trillion in 10 years.
Neither party has paid any attention to these recommendations! Sadly, President Obama has not used the power of his office to pressure Congress to act on these recommendations.

A recent ruling of the conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court gave big business a vastly increased influence on Congressmen/women by deciding that there are no limits on contributions of companies to election campaigns, overturning two precedents. Members of Congress of both parties are now, even more than ever, influenced by money contributions from both business and the unions. Over 80% of Representatives and Senators are millionaires, very dependent on the lobbies. So how can you expect them to rule fairly on banking reform and election financing reform, or on regulating pollution caused by oil and chemical companies?
The media talk a lot about corruption in the Middle-East. What about corruption in the U.S.A?

Note: The sampling error for the overall questions is +/- 3%;
for the breakdowns 5 - 6 % because of smaller sample quantities.

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Last update: Nov. 22, 2011.