Across the board, the health of the economy has remained the number one issue on voters’ minds in Republican primaries, and Tuesday’s contests in Maryland and Wisconsin (CNN) and Washington D.C. were no exception.
In Wisconsin, 40 percent of those polled said they think the economy is “getting worse” and another 29 percent said it is staying the same. Fifty-five percent said they consider the economy the most important issue in the 2012 election. Half the Maryland voters polled said they think the economy is getting worse and that the economy is their top issue.
Though Tuesday’s primary voters seem dubious about economic improvements, Gallup’s latest poll shows that nationally, economic confidence is at its highest level since January 2008. Confidence has improved for seven consecutive months, driven in part by increasing optimism on unemployment and a recent positive manufacturing report.
However, economic confidence could be fragile, however, the pollsters warn. “A key question is whether the U.S. economy can continue its modest economic recovery as gas prices approach the key psychological level of $4 a gallon and the July 2008 record price of $4.11,” Gallup said. “Further, as [Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke] noted last week, questions remain about the sustainability of declining unemployment without stronger overall economic growth.”
Republican candidate Mitt Romney talked about how his lower corporate tax rate would help it in his Wisconsin victory speech. “Taxes have to be as low as possible and in line with those of the competing nations around the world, designed to foster innovation and growth. That’s why I will cut marginal taxes across the board. I want to create good jobs i this county. Let’s get the taxes down for employers,” said Romney, who won in Maryland and Washington, D.C. as well as Wisconsin Tuesday night (ABC).
President Barack Obama lambasted the Republican budget plan Tuesday, calling it bad for the U.S.’s economic future and a “Trojan horse” for “Social Darwinism” (Politico).
“It’s antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it — a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top but grows outward from the heart of the middle class,” Obama said at a gathering of newspaper editors. “And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last — education and training; research and development — it’s a prescription for decline.”
The president also gave a rundown of how some of the budget’s cuts — penned by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and backed by the GOP presidential field — will translate to actual numbers, including $1,000 less per student in federal college loans and 1,600 fewer medical research grants.
— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor