Free Markets, Free People
I’d like to say I’m “shocked – shocked I tell you”, but in all honesty I’m not. Rasmussen reports that:
More than one-out-of-four Americans (27%) think the government should manage the U.S. economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Nearly as many (24%) say it’s better for the government to stay out of economic decisions altogether.
First, just off the top, I can’t imagine how 27% can think the government would do a good job managing the economy except via abject ignorance about how the economy actually works. Secondly, if they’re at all literate they must know that some of the worst economic failures as states have been those in which the government managed the economy. And if they follow world events even in passing, they can find current examples of that failure in Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and North Korea to name a few.
So you’d have to figure they at least have some cognizance of what “government management of the economy” means to hold such a belief, right? If so, then other than faith, what do they base their opinion upon? Certainly not facts – or even success stories.
They remind me of people who begin smoking fully aware of all the awful things that tobacco use will eventually do to them and somehow naively believe they’ll be the exception to the rule. One has to assume they have discovered a way that government management of the economy can work and are simply waiting for the right time to spring it on us all.
Or perhaps they’re just young, inexperienced and enamored with the theory. I guess everyone goes through a period of kumbyah economics where one believes that if everyone would just work hard and share and let a benevolent government manage it all, we’d live in an earthly paradise. But I never thought as many as 27% wouldn’t outgrow that.
Even more disturbing is the fact that more think the government should manage the economy than think it should stay completely out of it. I’ll bet that wasn’t at all the case in the 18th or 19th centuries. In those days our ancestors were of the opinion the less government the better. What a novel thought, huh? And with that freedom they built a nation that is the envy of the world – at least for the time being. Until that 27% have their way.
Seriously though – that number is a bit stunning. 27%. More than a quarter of those polled actually expressed the opinion that we’d be better off if government managed the economy. Does that bother anyone else? And if so, how do you explain it?
27% of our countrymen think somehow government could do a better job managing the economy than markets. Markets which now manage, quite successfully mind you, billions of individual transactions a day in which the two (or more) voluntary participants part perfectly satisfied at the conclusion. How would government do that better? How would it better allocate goods, money, raw materials, etc., than does the market? What signals would it use to satisfy changing demand and ensure the right goods are produced at the right time and sent to the right place for the right price and at a profit which keeps the whole system moving in a positive direction?
I’m asking because I’d love one of the 27% to drop in an enlighten us poor rubes who just can’t seem to wrap our heads around the idea they’re backing in a positive way. Then I’d ask them if they’d prefer Zimbabwe or North Korea to this poor benighted country and its ostensibly “free” markets. Because obviously they can’t be happy here.
Wow … a real head shaker.
Because, according to Rasmussen, their agenda is considered by a good majority of likely voters to be "extreme":
Most U.S. voters believe the Democratic congressional agenda is extreme, while a plurality describe the Republican agenda as mainstream.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think the agenda of Democrats in Congress is extreme. Thirty-four percent (34%) say it is more accurate to describe the Democratic agenda as mainstream.
That’s the message. And how is it received. Well, one of the more useful things Rasmussen does is also show us the poll of what it calls the "political class". I.e. our betters inside the beltway who certainly have a much better feeling of what is in our best interests than we do. Rasmussen compares the "Political Class" with the "Mainstream voters, and demonstrates the size of the disconnect we suffer under:
The Political Class, however, has dramatically different views of the agendas of the two parties from what Mainstream voters think. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the Political Class say the Democratic agenda in Congress is in the mainstream, but 70% of Mainstream voters see that agenda as extreme.
You may be asking yourself how it is 57% in one paragraph and 70% in the next. The top number are Mainstream voters and the Political Class added together. The second number is Mainstream voters alone.
And yes, the gulf is huge. It explains the anger in America and the cluelessness in Washington. The Political Class think they’re doing the people’s work. The people think the Political Class is a bunch of elitists bent on taking more and more control and ignoring what the people actually want.
Moving on to the “Republican agenda” (which I’d love to see stated somewhere) the results are quite different:
Voters are more narrowly divided when it comes to the agenda of congressional Republicans. Forty-five percent (45%) of voters view the GOP agenda as mainstream, but nearly as many (40%) say it’s more accurate to call it extreme. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
But again, when you break it out by Mainstream voters and Political Class, the numbers widen:
While 53% of Mainstream voters see the Republican congressional agenda as in the mainstream, 81% of Political Class voters regard it as extreme.
So among Mainstream voters, the GOP agenda enjoys a slight majority. Among the Political Class – not so much. My guess is you would also find a close association between Mainstream voters and Political Class and Tea Parties and Progressives.
That’s primarily because the current administration has been in power 18 months, it has spent like there’s no tomorrow with borrowed funds and the economy is still in the tank. Most adults consider that more than enough time to do address the "inherited" problems and if not fix them, be on the road to doing so. But blaming the previous administration is no longer a viable option.
Forty-eight percent of likely voters blame Obama’s policies for the nation’s economic condition, compared to 47 percent who fault former President George W. Bush, according to Rasmussen Reports.
Although the difference is small and within the margin of error, the poll marks the first time in Obama’s presidency that more people blame him than Bush for the economy.
Obama’s 48 percent also shows a three percentage point increase over the past month, according to Rasmussen. As noted, the margin is small and within the margin of error but is, for the first time, against the Obama administration. More importantly, that’s the way it has been trending in past polls.
So essentially what you should expect to see, as the months pass and the unemployment rate remains high, GDP growth sluggish, consumer confidence down and businesses sitting on the side lines is more and more Americans coming to consider this mess the "Obama economy".
The White House has repeatedly tried to inoculate the president from economic blame with the message that Obama inherited a bad economy from Bush, and has made difficult, unpopular decisions to turn it around.
In a speech to the AFL-CIO, Obama made the case that the problems he faces are the result of Bush economic policies.
"We’re not going to go back to digging the hole," he said. "We’re not going to go back to the policies that took Bill Clinton’s surplus and in eight years turned it into record deficits."
That’s obviously not how the American people are seeing those policies and their effect. There’s nothing in the Bush years that even approach the record deficits being piled (and projected) by this administration.
So that old song and dance seem to finally be getting old. And it is surprising the White House is still trying to push it. You’d think they’d understand that it was a perishable excuse and it has long since passed its expiration date. And, as the poll indicates, people have grown tired of it and just don’t accept it as a reasonable excuse anymore.
Not that it will stop the "Blameshifter-in-Chief” and his henchmen from continuing to trot it out there at every opportunity. Their problem is it just isn’t viable anymore.
At least according to this Rasmussen poll.
It fairly clearly demonstrates that there is a resistence to the attempts by our federal leadership to further the welfare state that now exists here.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults shows that only 19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason. Another 11% are undecided.
The 19% probably are state employees (just kidding). But that’s a pretty damning majority. It says, very clearly, that there are no sacrosanct jobs, and certainly not within government. It also makes it clear that if those jobs are to be saved, increased taxation isn’t the way.
Entitlement programs don’t do much better:
Twenty-two percent (22%) would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.
Again, an overwhelming majority see entitlements as less important than cuts in their own income due to increased taxes. A not so subtle warning to politicians that before they raise taxes, which they will, there had better be some real cuts to entitlements made.
Education cuts have a lesser majority, but still, taxpayers are in no mood for tax increases:
Americans are slightly less opposed to paying higher taxes for education. Thirty-four percent (34%) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to provide funding for public education, but 54% say they are not. Another 12% aren’t sure.
Where the public seems somewhat willing to consider higher taxes (although a majority still isn’t willing to pay them) is in the area of public safety and police.
Thirty-seven percent (37%) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to increase the number of police and firemen in their communities. Still, 52% say they would not be willing to do so. Another 10% are not sure.
Now, there’s a context to these poll results that needs to be understood:
Most U.S. voters (52%) continue to believe that tax increases will hurt the economy, while just 22% think tax increases are good for the economy.
The economy is dictating at least part of this feeling by the public – its uncertainty and the continued economic downturn have voters wanting to hold on to every dollar they can. What’s interesting about the results is that while each category above has a majority against raising taxes, this isn’t just a blanket rejection. You go from an overwhelming majority of voters saying no to new taxes to save government jobs and stop cuts in entitlements to a bare majority when it comes to public safety.
That should inform politicians of the public’s priorities and where the line is if it comes to the point that taxes must be raised. Whether these attitudes will change if the economy improves is anyone’s guess. I’m not saying I favor tax increases, btw. I’m a “no new taxes” guy. Government gets more than it should have now, in my estimation.
I offer this as an interesting peek into the mind of the public right now. The point, of course, is given these numbers, appeals to save government jobs and/or prevent entitlement cuts is going to fall on deaf ears. Politicians who pursue increased tax revenues for those reasons (and at the behest of government unions like the SEIU) will be shooting themselves in the foot, politically speaking.
The pubic is in no mood for increased taxes. Woe be unto any pol who pushes them right now, especially to save government jobs and entitlements.
I’m sure it will somehow become a matter of race, but a recent Public Policy Polling survey showed that 50% of the state voters rated President Bush’s performance in 2005 after hurricane Katrina as better than the effort by President Obama today. Only 35% picked Obama’s performance as the best. That’s not to say the state was satisfied with either response. On the contrary, 62% said they disapproved of Obama’s handling of the crisis while 58% said they disapproved of Bush’s performance.
Meanwhile, another new poll finds that Obama’s approval rating has hit a new low:
Rasmussen Reports released a new poll Wednesday showing Obama’s approval rating hitting a new low — 42 percent. The daily tracking poll puts a 20-point spread between Obama’s strong approval and disapproval, 24 and 44 percent respectively.
That last poll tracks with the poll reported previously that found a majority of Americans didn’t believe Obama deserved re-election.
The continuing bad news in the polls has got to be worrying the crew in the White House. It’s not at a point, given the election is still 2 years off, that anyone there has to panic, but they’ve got a job on their hands turning this around. The building conventional wisdom seems to be that Obama is an administrator, not a leader, and that, given his performance, is going to be a tough meme to kill. The other CW seems to be he may be in over his head. The polls reflect both of those perceptions.
The president and his staff have got to find a way to cast Obama as a decisive and competent leader. That’s a real problem right now, although unfortunately, given the simmering international situation, they may get more opportunities than they ever sought to make the attempt.
Of course many of the upcoming international opportunities, we’ll learn, will come about precisely because Obama isn’t a strong and decisive leader.
Irony, it seems, has a warped sense of humor and always seems to throw more opportunities at those that want them least.
Rasmussen has a poll out about the public’s perception of the media. The media in question is the old media, both print and broadcast I assume. Many of the numbers don’t come as a particular suprise. For instance, 66% of those surveyed expressed some anger at the media, with 33% saying they were “very angry”.
Only 9% felt no anger at all, a part of the 31% that said they felt little or no anger at the press.
The primary reason for the anger was two-fold. One they felt there was a liberal bias (51%), but more importantly, they felt reporters (who a slight majority believe to be biased) will write stories that help their candidate of choice and (54%) even hide things which might hurt that candidate.
In other words, the majority of the public believes it can’t get unbiased coverage of campaigns.
Nothing particularly new there. But something which did catch my eye was the 55% who think media bias is a bigger problem than campaign contributions.
Unhappiness with the media comes at a time when many government policies are unpopular with a majority of voters and two-thirds (67%) think the news media has too much influence over the actions of government. Sixty-two percent (62%) say what the media thinks is more important to the average member of Congress than what voters think.
I think the pubic may have a point here. The media’s influence is outsized, especially when compared to what impact it has vs. public opinion. How else does one explain health care reform? If you remember, it was only after the bill was passed that we began to see the analysis emerge from mainstream news orgainzations that began framing the consequences of the bill in a negative light.
Like politicians, the media has dug it’s own hole in the perceptions of the public. I think one of the reasons for the rise of the political blog is the public can get a different slant on the news, and, given most blogs proudly announce their biases, weigh the news with the given bias in mind.
Most blogs don’t play at being objective and many times that can be a refreshing difference, since you can then go to blogs which identify with each ideological side and get their versions of the same policy, event or speech. I think this access and availability to diverse but biased opinion has helped shape the recurring perception that the old media is biased. It sort of points itself out when you read an old media article and see the same sort of reporting on a politically biased blog site while finding another explanation (and sometimes other facts) on an opposing blog.
As has been said many times, perception is reality, and the reality is that most of the public isn’t buying the old media’s claims of objective reporting – and for a good reason.
Rasmussen has a poll out that addresses the public’s feeling about government and job creation. To put it succinctly, they mostly think that government can best serve the public in that regard by cutting taxes.
Sixty-five percent (65%) say decisions made by U.S. business leaders to help their own businesses grow will do more to create jobs than decisions made by government officials. Twenty-five percent (25%) say decisions made by government officials to create jobs will do more.
So their faith in a government solution v. a private sector solution is obvious. As another survey points out, the public is “dubious” of the administration claimed success in aiding any economic recovery:
Just 33% say the economic stimulus passed by Congress last year has helped the job situation and only somewhat more (42%) say the loans the federal government provided to troubled financial institutions prevented a more severe financial crisis. Less than a third (31%) says that the government has made progress in fixing the problems that caused the 2008 financial crisis.
That means Democrats are unlikely to reap the political reward from an economic turnaround that they would like.
It goes without saying, dissatisfaction with the economy and government (and government’s efforts in behalf of the economy) mean political trouble for the party in power. It means even more trouble for that party when the people make clear their priorities for the party in power (jobs, the economy and the deficit) and that party ignores them (HCR, financial reform, cap-and-trade, etc).
Another interesting tidbit from the Rasmussen poll which shows how disconnected the “Political Class” is from “Mainstream Voters”:
Similar distinctions are evident in the views of Mainstream voters versus those of the Political Class. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Mainstream voters, for example, think decisions made by U.S. business leaders to help their own businesses grow will do more to create new jobs than job-creation decisions made by government officials. The plurality (47%) of Political Class voters have more confidence in the decisions made by government officials.
So how did a victorious Democratic party and a president swept into power on the “Hope and Change” platform become so tone deaf to what the public really wants?
Most, I’m sure, remember candidate Obama saying that one of the things he really wanted to do was make government “cool again”. And, one can imagine, he thought that was part of his and the Democrats mandate when he was elected. Of course, the underlying premise of a desire to make government “cool again” is the belief that government is the answer to most problems. Or more government is good government and good government is “cool”. They’ve accomplished the “more government part”, but it certainly certainly hasn’t translated into a perception of good government, has it?
Interestingly, David Brooks recently addressed that in an article saying:
In the first year of the Obama administration, the Democrats, either wittingly or unwittingly, decided to put the big government-versus-small government debate at the center of American life.
But Arnold Kling differs with that and I think what he says is more on the mark. His premise helps explain a lot, such as the Democratic tone deafness and their reaction to the emergence of the Tea Parties, etc. Talking about Brook’s statement above he says:
I would put this somewhat differently. The left decided that the debate was settled. They took the view that the financial crisis proved once and for all that markets do not work, and that wherever markets produce imperfect outcomes, government is the answer.
They, as many political parties have in the past, misinterpreted the outcome as a mandate to do what they perceived to be the desire of the people – expand the size, scope and cost of government – and set out on their merry way to do exactly that.
As it turns out, they were dead wrong. In fact, the term “dead wrong” doesn’t even begin to describe how wrong they were. Not only did the financial crises not support their interpretation, but – as with the “science” of AGW – nothing about the debate concerning the size, scope and cost of government was settled by their election. That’s not at all what the election was about – yet their own hubris wouldn’t allow them to see that. They decided to interpret it the way they found served their ideological best interest.
And they’ve blown it.
Recognizing that has to give one some hope. Americans are mostly rejecting big government and government solutions. Government is not “cool” again. And while the Democrats haven’t yet realized that, the GOP seems to be waking up to it – somewhat. They’re not there yet, and a certain number of them are as clueless as the Democrats, but I think the public is gearing up to smack many of those who are popularly known as “RINOs” around a bit in November as well (especially if they favor more government).
I think it is interesting though to consider this explanation as to why Democrats don’t seem to be able to get out of their own way and why they seem unable to change course and address that which the electorate really wants. All of that goes directly against the interpretation they gave the election of 2008 and they can’t yet admit to themselves, much less anyone else, that they were wrong.
UPDATE: If you don’t believe me, consider the commencement speech President Obama just delivered at the University of Michigan today:
President Obama on Saturday urged graduates at the University of Michigan to participate in public life as the president forcefully defended an activist role for government in dealing with society’s problems.
Don’t expect he or the Democrats to figure it out anytime soon.
That’s the phrase I’ve been using for months to describe the Tea Party (TP) activists you see at protests. They represent a small portion of those who actually identify themselves with the TP movement. Rasmussen, today, releases a poll which confirms the assertion:
Twenty-four percent (24%) of U.S. voters now say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s an eight-point increase from 16% a month ago.
That is a significant chunk of voters. Note too the 8 point increase from a month ago? What was it that was passed into law a month ago? So there is proof that the passage of HCR didn’t at all cause the populist fire abate, but instead fueled it even more. Why is that? Rich Lowry gives as good a summation as anyone:
The tea-party movement is an act of pre-emption, based on the simple calculation that higher spending eventually means higher taxes. For all the tsk-tsking about its supposed irresponsibility, the movement is attuned to the future in a way that the president — who hopes to evade or hide the consequences of his budgetary choices for as long as possible — is not.
And the passage of HCR in the face of the TP outcry only added to the frustration the people are feeling. It also added to those who identifed themselves with the TP. Obviously, then the demonization of TP isn’t being terribly effective, is it?
Of course, as Lowry implies, the TP members figured out long ago what HCR really meant in terms of the size and scope of government and consequently what has to happen to pay for it. Lowry points out that the expiring Bush tax cuts will raise about $700 billion over 10 years – half the amount of the deficit for this year alone. So where will the rest come from? Obviously not from the rich.
So we hear whispers now of a VAT. And the bipartisan commission will certainly suggest all sorts of “revenue enhancers.” The Tea Partiers saw this coming, and so will the general electorate. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the prospect of many more tax hikes will be up for debate in the midterm elections. And having violated their pledge not to tax those making less than $200,000 to pay for health care, Democrats are poorly situated to defend middle-class taxpayers.
There was talk for some time that the tax issue had faded. Republicans would have nothing to argue about, claimed the mainstream pundits. But alas, like so much else, Obama has done a yeoman’s work for conservatives. The tax issue is back. In a big way.
The 24% now identified with the TP (and, I’d guess another 5% who don’t formally identify themselves with the TP but do indeed share their beliefs) have known this was coming and are now being proven correct. The Democrats think HCR will fade from the public’s mind by the time the mid-term elections roll around in November. I don’t happen to share that belief (and this poll tells you why), but even if it did, look at the issue that won’t fade – the question that must continue to be asked by the TP and GOP is “how are we going to pay for all of this?” And use every means available to confront Democrats with that question and demand an answer. My guess is if they’ll do that, the TP numbers may swell to an even greater percentage by November and turn over the House.
But back to the title – Democrats reading the Rasmussen poll should understand one very important thing – each time you call the members of the TP things such as thugs, racists, homophobes, nazis, brownshirts and fascists, you’re addressing 25% of the voters. And yes, they will and have taken that personally. Great strategy – please, keep it up.
Rasmussen has the numbers that should have Democrats who are voting yes worried:
Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say they are less likely to vote for their representative in Congress this November if he or she votes for the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Wednesday night finds that 34% are more likely to vote for their Congress member’s reelection if he or she supports the president’s health care plan. Eight percent (8%) say the health care vote will have no impact on how they vote this November, and another seven percent (7%) are not sure.
Rasmussen also reports that 33% favor a single payer system and that heavily influences their plan to vote for their rep if their rep votes for the plan. However, as even Maxine Waters knows, 33 or 34% won’t get you elected. What will get you elected is the independent vote. And that’s pretty bad news for those contemplating a “yes” vote:
But perhaps more significantly, 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party are less likely to support someone who votes for the legislation. Just 32% of unaffiliateds are more likely to vote for someone who supports the bill.
I still don’t get this. If Democrats back off, say “we heard you” and team up with and include Republicans they could actually pass something called health care reform (not that I’d support that either – just discussing the politics here). And by doing that, they could lay it all in the GOP’s lap with a “put up or shut up” move, preserve their majorities in Congress and most likely win over a majorities of Americans to their side (unfortunate, but true).
So why the continued push to get this monstrosity through? Why play dumb power politics when you can accomplish much the same thing with smart politics and preserve your base of power?
Look, we watch politics here at QandO, and this is just dumb politics. It is going all-in for something which is very unpopular, will most likely destroy the Democratic majorities in Congress and doesn’t even begin the benefit cycle (the downside of gaming the CBO) until 2014 when it is entirely likely they may not even hold the White House any more.
I don’t get it – this was supposed to be such a cool and smart man who was well attuned politically – these are not the politics of someone fitting that description. It just says to me again that while he may be the face man, he’s not really in charge of the agenda.