A new Pew Research poll is getting a lot of attention because it shows the share of Republicans who believe in evolution has declined 11 percent since 2009, down to just 43 percent. In 2009, 54 percent said that human beings had “evolved over time.”
A quick poll of 2008 Republican candidates for president found that 7 out of 10 recognized the science of evolution. No such poll was taken during the 2012 GOP primary but not one of the eight candidates said he or she would be willing to accept a tax increase, even if it were paired with spending cuts at a rate of 10 to 1.
But in 2013, after the Bush tax rates expired, Congress voted to end the tax breaks for those earning $400,000, along with slightly higher taxes on capital gains and inheritances. The resulting increase in revenue along with budget cuts and the fastest growing job market since 2005 have resulted in a deficit that’s falling at nearly record rates.
The deficit was cut by $409 billion, or 37 percent, from the last fiscal year to $680 billion—$170 billion less than the Congressional Budget Office originally predicted.
While these numbers are still large, they’re even more impressive when you consider the key metric economists look at — deficit as a share of gross domestic product.
The White House presented this chart to illustrate how significant the reduction actually is:
By actual dollar amounts and as a share of GDP, the budget deficit is falling — quickly.
Yet for some reason, the percentage of Republicans who believe deficit reduction is occurring is a fraction of those who believe in evolution or even climate change.
Only 12 percent of Republicans believed that progress was being made in reducing the deficit in a Pew poll released earlier this month — even though the deficit shrunk by more than a third!
This matches a Bloomberg poll in October that showed two-thirds of Republicans, including 93 percent of Tea Partiers, believed the deficit was actually growing.
In an economy where millions are out of work, deficit reduction is most likely harmful. But the media goes out of its way to depict a deficit as inherently evil, while neglecting to make clear that it is actually shrinking precipitously.
When it comes to politics, most people are guilty of what Chris Mooney labels “motivated reasoning.”
Though climate change and evolution are theories that are accepted by the vast majority of scientists, they are still theories. The deficit, however, unquestionably exists. It was much larger the year before than it is now. Only 1 out of 10 Republicans is willing to accept this reality.
Before we start worrying about the right accepting scientific theories, let’s first try to get them to agree that facts exist.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr