Going over the fiscal cliff “would pose a substantial threat to the recovery,” Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said Tuesday
Sex and scandal sell, but Americans are following the fiscal cliff debate more than they are the brouhaha over General David Petraseus, who was forced to resign after admitting an extramarital affair.
A new study by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that in the wake of the presidential election, one-third of Americans are keeping close watch on developments with the fiscal cliff, the $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts due to go into effect at the end of the year unless a bipartisan solution is found.
In comparison, 28 percent consider the investigation into the Libyan embassy attack in Benghasi the top story in the news, while more than one-quarter (27 percent) are following the escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Twenty-two percent are following “very closely” the Petraeus scandal and resignation.
Interest in the fiscal cliff is equal among Republicans and Democrats, 36 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Not surprisingly, Pew found “a wide partisan gap” in interest in the Benghasi story with Republicans more likely than Democrats to be closely following the investigation into the evolving story, 42 percent vs. 21 percent.
Interest in the Petraeus revelations is “modest,” Pew found, but almost one-third of Americans believe that the story is of great importance to the nation, while 64 percent say is of “some” or “very little or no” importance.
With the deadline looming, the fiscal cliff has emerged as the nation’s top economic story. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke echoed Congressional Budget Office concerns that failure to reach a solution about the fiscal cliff could trigger a recession next year.
He cautioned Congress and the Obama White House that uncertainty over the fiscal cliff was holding back consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy. “Cooperation and creativity to deliver fiscal clarity --in particular, a plan for resolving the nation’s longer-term budgetary issues without harming the recovery -- could help make the new year a very good one for the American economy,” Bernanke stated in his appearance before the Economic Club of New York. Going over the cliff, he said, “would pose a substantial threat to the recovery.”
Only 17 percent of Affluent households surveyed in October by Millionaire Corner said they agreed with the statement, “I am confident that Congress will decide on a solution to the fiscal cliff.” This is up from last July, when 10 percent of Affluent respondents said, “Congress will never let us fall of ‘the cliff.’”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.