Sorry Charlie: Americans Don't Want Government that's Smaller, They Want Government That's Less Expensive
This post by Josh Marshal at TPM makes me wonder if what's happening on the budget these days isn't the equivalent of the old Starkist commercial with Charlie the Tuna , the one that says "Starkist don't want tuna with good taste, it wants tuna that tastes good."
Take a look.
Josh talks in his post about a story by Alexander Burns at Politico that, while interesting, misses the key point about the current budget debate.
According to Burns, governors around the country are running into serious political problems when they try to do what they think they received a mandate to do at the last election -- reduce the size of government with significant spending cuts. The governors are having a hard time explaining why, if that's what the voters want, there doesn't seem to be as much popular support when they actually try to cut spending.
The answer is actually quite simple: The governors (and, according to Burns, just about everyone else) misread what the voters said last November.
As Bruce and I have been pointing out for months here at CG&G, poll after poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans don't want smaller government; they just want the government they have to cost less. With the exception of foreign aid, Americans state repeatedly and definitively that they don't want government to do any less than it is currently doing, they just don't want to pay as much to get it.
It's not surprising, therefore, that the governors are running into big problems when they come up with spending cuts that are based on actual program reductions. In fact, it's entirely predictable.