What Americans Want From a Fiscal-Cliff Deal

November 27, 2012

With lawmakers getting down to business on a fiscal-cliff deal, interest groups are working overtime to tell the politicians what voters want them to do.

This matters a lot, obviously; all else being equal, politicians are much more likely to take stands they believe to be political winners. But when it comes to concocting the perfect blend of tax hikes and spending cuts, what the people want is not perfectly clear.

This week, a fight has broken out between Democratic groups over whether there is a popular mandate for entitlement reform. Each has fresh, credible polling data to support its position. On the one hand, a group of labor unions says that a clear majority of Americans don't want any cuts to Social Security or Medicare; on the other hand, the centrist-Democratic think tank Third Way aserts that even a majority of President Obama's supporters support a bipartisan compromise to fix those programs.

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