Americans are voting on the wrong information

by Linda Beale

Americans are voting on the wrong information
crossposted with Ataxingmatter

Even the Washington Post knows it–a new Bloomberg poll shows that Americans have wrong information about the Obama Administration’s record.   see Americans Don’t Know, Oct, 29 2010.  They mistakenly think taxes have increased (they haven’t–they’ve gone down), that the TARP money won’t ever be repaid (most of it already has been, and the bailout amounts still at risk are those used to bolster mortgage lenders); and that the economy is worse off because of the stimulus (not so–more than a million more jobs would have been lost without the stimulus, and many important public priorities have been funded).

The Obama administration has cut taxes — largely for the middle class — by $240 billion since taking office Jan. 20, 2009. A program aimed at families earning less than $150,000 that was contained in the stimulus package lowered the burden for 95 percent of working Americans by $116 billion, or about $400 per year for individuals and $800 for married couples. Other measures include breaks for college education, moderate- income families and the unemployed and incentives to promote renewable energy.

Still, the poll shows the message hasn’t gotten through to Americans, especially middle-income voters. By 52 percent to 19 percent, likely voters say federal income taxes have gone up for the middle class in the past two years.

“He’s all about raising taxes,” says poll respondent Jeanette Bagley, 74, a retired home health aide in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. “He’s all about big government and big spending.”

The view that taxes have gone up is shared by a majority of almost all demographic groups, including 50 percent of independent voters, among the linchpins of Obama’s victory in the 2008 election.

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[We recovered most of the TARP money, but] 60 percent of respondents say they believe most of the TARP money to the banks is lost and only 33 percent say most of the funds will be recovered.

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In the past year, the economy has grown 3 percent and is expected to show improvement in the second quarter of this year.

Voters aren’t seeing the better climate: 61 percent of poll respondents say the economy is shrinking this year, compared with 33 percent who say it is growing.

The WaPo article notes a pollster who blames the Dems for not communicating well enough about the way that the economy has improved during their stewardship. Certainly at least partly to blame.  But I suspect some of the blame also goes to those anonymously funded attack ads and robo-calls that distort and misrepresent. For example, I got a recorded call today from some right-wing organization that started out with “the Democrats are lying to you” and went on with multiple distortions.  The Atlantic notes “Five Reasons Americans Are So Wrong About Major Economic Facts“–both of those reasons are in the five, as well as the media’s failure to inform, the response of people to their own economic misfortunes (when an economy feels bad to you, then you will believe the negative attack ads more readily, I guess), and our own individual failure to exercise our responsibility to know the facts rather than buying the garbage.  Yes, that last is a huge one, as the Atlantic says:

Here’s a simple culprit: us. The civic responsibility to know basic stuff about the economy ultimately falls on citizens. It might feel like the banks are still living with our tax money, or that taxes have increased or will soon, or that the economy hasn’t grown in forever. But that doesn’t make it right.

One thing is for sure:  Americans will not vote wisely when the groups competing for their vote don’t deal honestly with the real issues that face this nation.  Wake up, America.  China just built a far faster supercomputer than any we’ve built.  We should be funding technology and innovation that will guide our economy into a better future.  We should not be electing zany, tax cutting, Social Security privatizating, global warming deniers who want more of the ostrich-head-in-the-sand economic policies that got us into this mess to start with.

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