Even Right-Wingers Become Liberals When They Turn Off Fox News
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In fact, PPC noted:
It is striking that no group — Republican, Democrat, or independents — on average acted in ways that fit their respective media stereotypes. It might be assumed that Republicans would cut the most; Democrats would cut the least or even increase spending; and that independents would be in between. But on the contrary:
- Republicans cut spending the least, though still considerably ($100.7 billion, or 7.4%)
- Democrats cut spending more than Republicans ($157.3 billion, or 11.6%)
- Independents cut spending substantially more than either Republicans or Democrats ($195.5 billion or 14.4%).
Thus, everything the media and Washington’s conventional wisdom tells you about the will of the voters is wrong. But don’t forget the Tea Party! They, too, did not respond as expected. Sure, they were more conservative than Republicans overall, but they still come across as wild-eyed socialists compared to their D.C. representatives:
Those who described themselves as “very sympathetic” to the Tea Party (14% of the full sample), as would be expected, raised taxes and revenues less than Republicans in general, and less than Democrats and independents. Even so, on average, Tea Party sympathizers found a quite substantial $188.2 billion in additional revenues to reduce the deficit ($105.2 billion in individual income taxes).
Tea Partyers raising taxes? By more than President Obama? Welcome to the strangest world of all: Welcome to reality. Think I’m kidding? Then consider the next way that PPC chose to look at its data — a comparison of blue and red districts. Remember, these districts have become dramatically safer for partisans than in years past — a fact that’s help push House Republicans ever further to the right, because fear of a primary challenge from the right is greater than fear of losing in the general election. And yet, PPC found surprising little difference between red and blue districts as a whole:
Overall, red districts and blue districts were very similar in the ways that they increased revenues…. What is surprising is that red districts on average increased revenues slightly more than did blue districts on average.
On average, red districts increased revenues by $295.5 billion, of which $155.9 billion came from increases to individual income taxes. Blue districts increased revenues by $286.4 billion, of which $153.6 billion came from individual income taxes. In red districts, more respondents increased effective tax rates on incomes over $500,000, as well as some other taxes.
The reason for this counterintuitive result, PPC notes, is the greater presence of independents in red districts (25 percent vs. 19 percent in blue districts). Because they favored higher taxes and deeper spending cuts, they tipped the balance to make red districts remarkably similar to blue districts. The differences were almost as modest on the spending side:
On average, red districts made spending cuts totaling $140.6 billion, while blue districts made cuts totaling $153.4 billion—a difference of $12.8 billion.
The rational for the House of Representatives is that it is “closer to the people,” and this is what Tea Party political representatives have repeatedly claimed as well, as they’ve fought to push the political spectrum sharply to the right. Meanwhile, back in the real world, nothing could be further from the truth. The main reasons are obvious: First, the independents who shift the balance so decisively do not vote in GOP primaries, so their voices simply don’t count. This is the point of the PPC’s red district/blue district analysis. Second, and even more fundamentally, nobody ever asks the public what they want in ways that allow them to articulate a coherent vision. This is the point of PPC’s entire project, and their budget project in particular.