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Field Poll: Congress still down in the dumps

The failure of the “Super Committee” to find any solutions to the nation’s budget and debt problems has cemented Californian’s disdain for Congress, according to a new Field Poll released today.

A whopping 84 percent of the state’s voters now disapprove of how Congress is doing its job, while only 10 percent approve; the rest have no opinion.

More than nine in 10 voters see it as a serious situation that the special bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction couldn’t come up with a plan after months of trying. Although a third of voters believe Republicans are more to blame than Democrats for the committee’s failure, half believe both parties share equal blame; only 14 percent believe Democrats were more at fault.

(Those numbers made me think again about something I read last night: This commentary by Paul Barrett, assistant managing editor and senior feature writer at Bloomberg Businessweek.)

And, asked whether they believe the nation has a better chance of solving its problems by electing more Democrats or more Republicans to Congress next year, 40 percent said neither will make much difference, 31 percent said Democrats, and 26 percent said Republicans.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,000 California voters from Nov. 15 through 27; the poll has a 3.8-percentage-point margin of error.

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Mike Honda speaks out on deficit reduction

Letting the Bush-era tax cuts sunset and ending military spending in Afghanistan and Iraq would go a long way toward getting the nation out of its deficit hole, Rep. Mike Honda told constituents today.

honda.jpgHonda, D-San Jose, held a conference call to tell voters how the Budget Control Act passed last month will affect their lives and what the so-called “Super Committee” is tasked with doing now.

The bipartisan, 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has until Nov. 23 to decide how to further reduce the nation’s deficit; if Congress doesn’t approve a plan for $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction by Jan. 15, bone-deep cuts will be automatically triggered.

Honda said today that the debt-limit showdown that led to the committee’s creation was “engineered” for political reasons.

“This was a manufactured crisis” in which Republicans “turned our routine housekeeping issue of raising the debt limit into a crisis when they should have been focused on jobs,” he said. “We do have deficits and we do have debt, but we need to look at how we got there.”

The committee should focus on job creation initiatives that will help buoy the economy and reduce the deficit, while increasing revenue by returning rich Americans’ tax rates to what they were during the Clinton era’s surplus years and continuing to draw down military resources from Afghanistan and Iraq, Honda said. He had listeners follow along with a presentation posted on his website to advance his arguments.

Honda spokesman Michael Shank said word of the call had been put out on Facebook and Twitter, on the congressman’s website and e-newsletter, and via a mailer; “a couple hundred” constituents actually dialed in, he said. “Definitely not as big as our telephone town halls (where we have a several thousand) but that’s because we do those in the evening and use a calling service to call out to constituents. Here we relied on people calling in of their own volition.”

Honda serves on the House Budget and Appropriations committees. He also chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Budget Task Force and so elped draft the caucus’ “People’s Budget,” which the caucus says would eliminate the deficit in 10 years, put Americans back to work and restore the nation’s economic competitiveness. The budget among other things calls for letting the Bush tax cuts sunset, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, creating a public health care option, eliminates the individual Social Security payroll cap and invests in education and infrastructure.