Voters' voice: Americans send mixed messages to their lawmakers

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With gridlock and partisan bickering eating at Americans, Congress' approval ratings have dropped to record lows. Americans blame politicians for the irresponsible spending cuts mandated by the budget sequester. Voters call out lawmakers for cowardice and inability to compromise.

But voters can take credit -- or blame -- for at least a fraction of the dysfunction because they not only elected these knuckleheads, but they also continue to send them mixed messages.

A CBS News poll shows that most Americans say they want to cut spending and raise taxes to cut the deficit. But 80 percent oppose cuts in Social Security and Medicare; two-thirds oppose raising their own taxes to reduce the deficit.

The 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax is another case in point. It hasn't risen in 20 years and the sum it raises falls far short of what's needed to maintain a first-rate transportation system.

People complain about bad roads. But any politician who showed real leadership and courage and proposed raising the gas tax would get his head handed to him in the next election.

With guidance from voters that's often confusing and self-serving, it's no surprise that Congress fails to do its job.

opinion_editorials


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