After experiencing a devastating loss on November 6, you’d think that Republicans would have learned one of the lessons of the election: put aside ideology and work with Democrats on balanced solutions to the challenges America faces. But as we’ve seen over the past few months, Republicans continue to push the extreme positions that the American people rejected last November and are refusing to meet President Obama and Democrats halfway to find a balanced approach to our nation’s fiscal issues. We’ve seen this most clearly during the sequester debate: While Americans want the sequester to end and replace it with a smarter, balanced approach that asks the wealthy to pay a little more, Republicans are sticking to a cuts-only approach that slashes the very investments our nation needs to make to create jobs and get our economy humming again. Rather than taking stock after losing yet another national election on the very issues that are dominating the current debate over fiscal issues and trying to find common ground, Republicans are doubling down on their failed approach—and voters are noticing.
Today’s Washington Post–ABC News Poll tells exactly that story. Americans’ disapproval of congressional Republicans is a stunning 72 percent—their highest disapproval in more than a year, not coincidentally coming one week after the GOP-forced sequester began. Why is this? Because Republicans refuse to compromise to get anything done. They refused to work with the President to find a solution that would have averted the sequester, and now the public is rejecting the indiscriminate across-the-board cuts Republicans chose over closing even one loophole that benefits the wealthiest. In fact, support for the Republican approach is dropping like a rock. In a WaPo-ABC poll prior to the sequester, 61 percent of Americans supported the cuts. Today, only 39 percent of Americans in the WaPo-ABC poll approve of them.
And it gets worse for the GOP. Today’s poll shows that Americans are worried about the effects of the GOP sequester on the economy—only 28 percent want the cuts to continue, and by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans believe the cuts will hurt our economy and our military readiness. It’s perhaps not surprising then that today’s poll found that nearly half of all Americans—47 percent—blame Republicans for the sequester itself.
And Americans don’t just blame Republicans for the sequester. They also reject their approach to replacing it and their fiscal priorities generally. A whopping 71 percent of Americans disapprove of Republicans’ proposals to cut Medicaid, and six in 10 oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
Despite all this, Republicans have embraced the sequester and a cuts-only approach to addressing our fiscal challenges. Republicans have alternatively praised the sequester or attempted to downplay its effects: One Tennessee Republican representative, Marsha Blackburn, said she and her constituents were “relieved” the sequester took place while Senator Rand Paul has said that the sequester, which could cost the country 800,000 jobs or more, is a “pittance.” Today’s poll shows Republicans are losing the argument on the sequester no matter which of those two messages, or any other, they trot out.
Today’s WaPo-ABC poll is not a case of Republicans and the President splitting the difference on public opinion and girding for future battles on roughly equal footing. At a disapproval rating of 72 percent, congressional Republicans and their approach to the issues is being rejected by Americans from all walks of life—including by moderate (81 percent) and independent voters (74 percent). And, adding insult to self-inflicted injury, 53 percent of Republicans in the poll disapprove of the job performance of Republicans in Congress.
My mama had some good advice for me growing up: "Son, if you’re stuck in a hole, stop digging." Republicans should put down the shovel and talk to mama.