GOP Voters' Top Issue

GOP Voters' Top Issue

By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Wednesday, August 23, 2023

It’s GOP debate night! We’ll soon find out whether and to what extent fiscal issues are a factor in the Republican primary. In the meantime, here’s what we’re watching.

Inflation, Budget and Debt High on GOP Voters’ List of Priorities: Poll

As eight Republican candidates not named Donald Trump aim to use tonight’s initial 2024 presidential primary debate to build some momentum in the race for the GOP nomination, policy matters may take a back seat to political positioning and pot shots. But GOP voters say they have some clear priorities when it comes to the issues: Six in 10 say that inflation is the most important issue facing the country, according to a new FiveThirtyEight/Washington Post/Ipsos survey, and 53% say getting increasing costs under control is among the top issues that will determine their vote.

Voters were asked which topics from a list of options are the most important facing the country and, separately, which are the most important in determining their primary vote. Respondents could choose up to three answers for each question.

On the list of most important issues, immigration (42%) ranks a somewhat distant second. “Government budget and debt” come in third (34%). Taxes were mentioned by 17%, health care by 14%.

On the list of issues most important in determining their vote, 25% of Republicans pointed to the ability to defeat Joe Biden. The same percentage said “fighting against liberalism and the woke agenda.” Just behind those issues, in fifth place overall, was cutting government spending (23%). “Lowering taxes” fell further down on the list (15%). See the Washington Post chart below for the full list.


Number of the Day: 306,000

Newly revised labor market figures from the U.S. government show that the country had 306,000 fewer jobs in March 2023 than previously estimated, suggesting that the U.S. job market is hot but not quite as scorching as some analysts had thought. The revision was minor, however, amounting to a 0.2% reduction in the benchmark that will be used going forward.

“The revisions, which are preliminary, don’t change the big picture: Job growth has slowed since the initial wave of post-lockdown reopening, but has remained surprisingly resilient,” The New York Times’ Ben Casselman wrote. “Even after the latest revision, there were 2.8 million more jobs in March than before the pandemic began.”

Still, some economists think the downward revision should signal the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates in its effort to control inflation. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the new data indicates that about 300,000 jobs were being created per month in the year before March 2023, a pace that has now slowed to less than 200,000 per month. “Strong, but slowing,” he wrote on social media. “End the rate hikes.”

371 People Charged With More Than $836 Million in Covid Aid Fraud: DOJ

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the results of a massive crackdown on fraud targeting Covid-19 aid, including 718 law enforcement actions and federal criminal charges against 371 defendants tied to more than $836 million in alleged theft. Just under 120 defendants pleaded guilty of were convicted at trial as part of the sweep.

The crackdown detailed by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Michael C. Galdo, acting director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, took place from May through July and involved more than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and other partners. It is part of an ongoing effort to recover the vast sums of federal aid money stolen through fraud during the pandemic.

Many of the fraud cases in the recent enforcement action involved charges related to pandemic unemployment insurance benefits or funds from two major pandemic relief efforts, the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Other cases involved pandemic health care billing, the Emergency Rental Assistance program and the IRS Employee Retention Credit program.

“The Justice Department has now seized over $1.4 billion in COVID-19 relief funds that criminals had stolen and charged over 3,000 defendants with crimes in federal districts across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “This latest action, involving over 300 defendants and over $830 million in alleged COVID-19 fraud, should send a clear message: the COVID-19 public health emergency may have ended, but the Justice Department’s work to identify and prosecute those who stole pandemic relief funds is far from over.”

Quote of the Day

“I think that’s inevitable.”

Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, as quoted by The Hill saying that a challenge to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership in certain if McCarthy does not meet conservative demands and instead looks to Democrats to help avoid a government shutdown. “I think if we continue to rely on the Democrats to pass important legislation out of the House, it’s going to be a real problem for leadership. And I think the way the rules are set up now, that’s inevitable that’s going to happen,” Jackson said.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus said this week that it will oppose any stopgap government funding bill that does not include its priorities, which would be poison pills for Democrats in both the House and Senate.

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