Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Voters have been asking for smaller government since Jimmy Carter

Henninger and Rasmussen make a great point that seems lost inside the Beltway and the media, both right and left, for decades; voters have been asking for smaller federal government since Jimmy Carter. Here is the latest polling:

Look at the astonishing numbers in the Rasmussen poll released last week. Nearly seven in 10 respondents (68%) want a smaller government, lower taxes and fewer services. The party breakdown: GOP, 88%; Democrats, 44%; and Other, 74%. In short, the independent voters who decide national elections have moved into the anti-spending column. I don't think they'll leave any time soon.
It's the Spending Stupid

It appears the wisdom of the crowd far outweighs Keynes. But then Rasmussen goes on:

In a note on last week's poll, Rasmussen points out that the only time it recorded a higher shrink-the-government number, at 70%, was in August 2006. That was just ahead of the famous off-year election in which Republican voters withheld support for their party's free-spending members in Congress. 

In fact, that trend goes well back through elections:

I called Scott Rasmussen this week to discuss the roots of the anti-spending mood, and he suggested that the American electorate's desire for pushback against the growth in federal spending dates at least to 1992 and Ross Perot's third-party presidential bid, which drew 18.9% of the popular vote. Indeed, Mr. Rasmussen argues, you can find evidence of the turn in Jimmy Carter's "efficiency in government" efforts. 
Let's review the Jimmy Carter era for a moment:
  • Oil price shocks and shortages midst totally erroneous elite theories about 'peak oil,' and ruinous responses to them.
  • Ineffectual price controls.
  • Out of control inflation.
  • Global cooling scare.
  • Shah of Iran fiasco.
  • Faint hearted response to Iran hostage crisis.
Some time during the failed Jimmy Carter era, the electorate noticed that the federal government could not really manage much of anything and was actually making things worse. In increasing numbers, they have been searching for politicians to minimize federal over-reach ever since.

The question is not whether people want a smaller federal government. The question is how to go about reducing it. On that question, the fear is that the population is only partially aware of the level of cuts necessary to restore viability to the country.

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