Americans are famous both for being weight conscious, and at the same time unable to come to terms successfully with their bloated waistlines. The same paradox has applied to how the public looks at budget deficits for a very long time.
Note a 2006 Pew Research Center survey that reported "Americans See Weight Problems Everywhere But In the Mirror." An overwhelming number of the public found their fellow Americans overweight, yet significantly fewer said this was true about "the people they know." And, of course, just four-in-ten considered themselves overweight. A follow-up report observed that among the many Americans who said that they were exercising, dieting or both, few were having much success.
This is not all that different from what polling has found consistently about how Americans look at the fight against their government's bloated budget deficit.
The issue seems to be a political fight everyone is willing to join. The Republican Party has added deficit fighting to its political resurgence rallying cry. President Barack Obama has gone to great length to promise that his new health care plan will not add a cent to the deficit. But are American really ready to shed all that deficit weight?
Read the full commentary Battle of the Budget Bulge on the Pew Research Center's Web site.