Mitt Romney

Voters Not Convinced Either Candidate Has a Clear Plan to Fix the Economy


Hayek wept

But on what is likely to be the central issue of the 2012 race, a majority of voters say neither candidate has a "clear plan for fixing the economy."

Sixty-one percent of voters surveyed said Obama did not have a plan to aid the economy, with 36 percent expressing confidence in his policies.

Fifty-eight percent did not believe Romney had solutions for the nation's economic woes, with 31 percent expressing support.

In surveys like this, you often learn as much from the questions as from the responses. Fox asked likely voters whether they think each candidate "has a clear plan for fixing the economy, or not?"

The assumption is that voters are looking for a president who can map out and execute a master plan to "fix" the entire $15 trillion U.S. economy. Basically, they want a This Old House-era Bob Villa for the entire economy.

Given how poorly recent presidents (with plenty of help from Congress, to be sure) from both parties have managed the explicitly federal parts of the economy, maybe it's time to reset expectations a little bit. How about a president with a plausible plan to clean up the massive federal budget mess—and a commitment to try not to make the rest of the economy worse? 

NEXT: Andrew Napolitano on Rick Perry and Social Security

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Obama did not have a plan to aid the economy, with 36 percent expressing confidence in his policies.

    Becuase they think his policies have worked out so well so far?

    1. Because they don’t want to give aid and comfort to Republicans.

    2. You know how it is, they think it will work eventually, or that Republicans are blocking his policies and ruining the economy.

    3. Mainly because he’s so clean and articulate.

  2. A plan to fix the economy? Who needs a plan, stop force feeding it arsnic and it will heal it’s own damn self.

    That said even if it were possible to come up with a “plan” to fix the economy no politician could ever win office with it because it involves a decade or more of depressed economic activity as we deleverage and telling people that no, they can’t have $80,000 in credit cards (all maxed out of course) with a $50,000 a year annual salary.

    1. But they can have $80,000 in credit cards with 27% interest, a 250k mortgage at 7% (only 5% down!) and 20k in car loans at 11% on $50k a year! Yeah, yeah, the payments are more than they make, but who are YOU to tell them it isn’t allowed? If they want to trash their credit and then go bankrupt and hang the debt around all our necks, who are you to stop them. It is a free country after all.

      1. It’s not a free country until you can get everything you want at no cost. QED

    2. As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.

      In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

  3. So wait, the two choices were:

    1) Candidate X does not have a plan
    2) I support Candidate X


    1. I was wondering the same thing. How do they get from “X does not have a plan to fix the economy” to “X should have a plan that will fix the economy”?

  4. Here’s the Dean plan for fixing the economy:

    (1) Tax reform. Junk the Internal Revenue Code, replace it with a two or three tier income tax, with lower rates because the base will be broadened. For individuals, no deductions except personal deductions. For businesses, GAAP accounting, pay tax on your GAAP net income. Might keep a simplified version of the non-profit non-taxable concept, but only for charitable organizations.

    Payroll tax for current transfer programs that fully funds those programs every year, with no borrowing or excess. This will drive entitlement reform, because the cost of entitlements will be perfectly clear to every worker.

    (2) Regulatory reform. Spin off most of the current regulatory state to the states/interstate compacts.

    (3) Cut spending over a few years to a balanced budget. Entitlements are self-balancing under the new transfer tax, so those aren’t an issue. The regulatory state is much smaller at the federal level already, and defense is cut back by giving over most of our overseas commitments, cutting the Army way back, and cutting the Navy and Air Force to a level commensurate with actual national defense.

    1. Or just enact fair tax and take care of #1, #2, and #3 all at the same time as long as you stop going to war.

      1. The fair tax might take care of #1, but it wouldn’t touch #2 or #3. Those would require that you actually reduce federal regulations and control spending.

        1. Sorry, Misread #2 as entitlement reform and #3 as spending. Skipped over regulation completely. Entitlements would be helped drastically by the prebates and that would certainly help with the spending. Doesn’t do shit for regulation 🙂

          1. Entitlements would be helped drastically by the prebates and that would certainly help with the spending.

            Not knowing a lot about the fair tax, how would the prebates help with entitlements?

            1. The idea that prebates would not become entitlements is pure fantasy.

              I simply can not fathom how anyone could think that having the government write every single person in the country a check on a regular basis wouldn’t end in disaster.

      2. The only way entitlement reform happens, IMO, is if there is a constituency of makers who are motivated to oppose the constituency of takers.

        The transfer tax does that, by immediately raising or lowering payroll taxes (all of which are paid by the worker, and none by the employer) in response to increases or decreases in the cost of entitlement programs.

        Want that fat drug benefit? Fine. Here’s the bill, voter. Let your representative know if you’re cool with giving up another 1% of your pay.

    2. Amend this proposal to include a large air force base in my district, and you’ve got my vote!

    3. Well, look at Mr. Big Shot called-out-in-a-blog-post and his big fancy 3 point plan!

      1. Indeed. Look upon my works, ye mighty . . . .

  5. You know who else thought the economy could be “fixed”?

    1. Wir behoben die Wirtschaft…Und die Juden

    2. Keynes?

    3. Your mom?

    4. Your veterinarian?

    5. Karl Marx?

  6. they want a This Old House-era Bob Villa for the entire economy.

    Suderman is clearly a complete geek. Every real man know that Norm Abram is a God, Bob Villa merely a nobody who leeched off Norm’s omnipotence.

    With all due respect to Hayek, Norm can build anything. Perhaps he could fix the economy.

    1. It would be entertaining to see Norm literally cut the budget in half with a table saw.

      1. That’s be a big ass table saw. Last time I saw a budget printed, it was too thick for most table saws. Probably have to clamp it to hell and use a bandsaw.

  7. I’d rather have Norm Abrams fix the economy if someone from This Old House has to do it.

    1. Beat ya by two minutes!

      1. And I got his last name wrong.

  8. Presidents (and Congresses) may not be able to single-handedly “fix” the economy, but they sure can run it into the ground easily enough.

    That they can, or that this question even makes sense to ask, just goes to show that government has way, way too much power and influence.

    Did 18th & 19th century reporters ever ask Jefferson or Adams or Madison what their plans for the economy were? Would it have occurred to them to even ask?

    1. Don’t forget Jefferson’s embargo on trade with Britain and Europe. But to be fair, that was meant as a foreign-policy measure, he didn’t pretend it would help the economy.

  9. By “either candidate,” do you mean Paul and Romney?

  10. Making some very, very, very* rough estimates, I calculated that we could balance the budget with a 23% Single Land Tax and eliminate all other sources of revenue.

    That is way too high, of course. But we are spending way too much, duh.

    *I found a good estimate for the value of residential land in the US. I assumed it was about 33% of the total US land value because from a google search that was about the ratio in the 1960s. So estimating using 40-50 year out of date data.

    1. This came up right off the bat:…..antity.asp

      It shows a residential land value of $4.5TT for third quarter 2011. To fund the federal government with a tax on residential land, you would have to have more like a 80% tax, and you would utterly destroy the real estate market, your tax base, and the finances of just about anyone who was foolish enough to buy property back when it didn’t come with a crippling tax liability.

  11. I actually think this is a pretty uplifting statistic.

    Once people realize that Washington can’t fix this mess they can only make it worse, people will stop believing is stupid crap like Hope and Change.

    1. Yes, that was my reaction too. Voters actually fairly smart.

    2. Once people realize that Washington can’t fix this mess they can only make it worse, people will stop believing is stupid crap like Hope and Change.

      There has always been and will always be an infinite capacity for people to believe that the “Good King” can make things better.

  12. When you actually renovate, or even repair, an old house, instead of just watching it on TV, you find out something… When you plan out a complete renovation, that renovation can cost more than the house. Apropos, I think.

    Obama has been working on just such a plan. The house, however, is no better off. So not only is a planned renovation of the economy expensive, it also just plain doesn’t work.

    Politicians never want to admit that they have no real power to make the economy happen (except when gas prices are the issue, of course). But they don’t. I’d rather have someone WITHOUT a plan, who will neither waste all that money, nor get in the way of the natural and inevitable tendency of the economy to grow over time.

  13. That a majority of voters say neither candidate has a clear plan for fixing the economy is a clear sign of our fiscal troubles.

    Just recently the CBO reported that that if laws remain unchanged the federal budget deficit for this year will be $1.1 trillion. That number is in addition to total debt over $15 Trillion and projections that by 2021 federal debt will be over $20 trillion.

    1. Ron Paul DOES have a plan for fixing the economy.

  14. A very good article.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.