Leave taxes alone and cut spending, warn public

CUT spending, don’t touch taxes and scrap the Croke Park Agreement, that’s the message from the public to the Government ahead of Tuesday’s Budget.

Given options for bridging the gap in the public finances, a poll showed 70% thought taxing or means-testing child benefit for high earners was the fairest.

The introduction of a property tax and cutting the minimum wage were the next two most popular options.

However, there was strong opposition to any planned cuts to the old age pension, with 43% saying it was the least favourable option.

The Irish Examiner /Lansdowne Millward Brown opinion poll also revealed:

- 80% agreed that at 166, we have too many TDs. Separately, Irish Examiner journalists interviewed 100 people face-to-face on streets across the country.

The overriding message was that politicians and ministers should cut their pay before looking for savings from the rest of the country.

- Eight-out-of-10 people thought the agreement not to cut jobs in the public sector under the Croke Park Agreement was unrealistic and should be scrapped.

- Almost half of those surveyed rejected the suggestion that the presidency was a luxury the country can no longer afford.

- More than 75% believe the €25 million-a-year Seanad is excessive and should be abolished.

- More than two-thirds do not want the 12.5% corporation tax raised under any circumstances.

- 60% believe Ireland no longer has the power to make its own financial decisions.

Although 75% of people surveyed believed the country is heading in the wrong direction, they had little faith in the political parties most likely to be charged with leading the country out of the crisis.

Less than 25% thought Fine Gael’s economic policies would solve the economic turmoil. Some 23% considered the Labour Party’s policies would work.

To make matters worse for Fine Gael, only 20% thought Enda Kenny would make a good Taoiseach. One-in-three thought Eamon Gilmore was a positive option but this is far less than the personal approval rating suggested in other polls.

Despite reservations about the two main opposition parties’ policies, there was still a widely-held belief that the two groups could work together to form a stable coalition after the election. But this was not the preferred option.

More than 60% of people thought a national government involving all parties would be the best system for the country.

This was a poor showing for the opposition partners because the survey of 1,000 people began the day after the Green Party announced it wanted a general election and continued until after the Government revealed its devastating Four-Year Plan to save €15 billion.

Claims that the Croke Park deal will still be in place to protect public service workers have been dismissed by the vast majority of people.

They believe that whoever forms the next government will have to tell those employed by the State that their pay will be cut again.

Some 81% of those surveyed thought the notion of the partnership deal maintaining jobs was unrealistic. Just 13% felt it was liable to remain intact for the lifetime of the Four-Year Plan.

The dismissive attitude towards the deal was strongest among richer people, where just less than 90% reckoned the agreement would have to be revisited.

Picture: Thousands of people march through Dublin City centre last Saturday in protest against the Government's austerity measures.


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