StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

federal spending is very popular

Posted by Stan Collender

Last August and September, I did a series of eight posts about how, contrary to Tea Party and John Boehner assertions, federal spending was actually very popular. As I said at the time, Americans don't want less government; they just want government that costs less.

The latest installment -- episode 9 -- happened last week when the air traffic control problems caused by the sequester were fixed in what by congressional standards was warp speed.

Faced with an immediate backlash from flyers, Congress and the White House enacted legislation that fixed the problems less than a week after the furloughs caused long delays in the skies and long security lines at the airports.

Yes...Flyers are a relatively elite group relative to the population at large. Yes...this is a group that has more influence and a larger megaphone than the average voter. And yes...the delays were easier for the media to cover and so were more visible than sequester-related reductions in other programs.

Posted by Stan Collender

Another CG&G alum, the ever-alert and budget-aware Bruce Bartlett, last week sent me yet another poll showing how popular federal spending has become.

Take a look at question 15 of the poll from The Economist and YouGov, which was completed just a week or so ago. It shows that only 19 percent of respondents support reductions in Social Security and only 21 percent support them in Medicare. Medicaid reductions are supported by more -- 31 percent -- but definitely not anything close to a majority.

Military spending reductions are supported by a majority -- 51 percent -- but that's obviously just in general terms. My guess is that specific Pentagon programs would not be embraced by anything close to that number.

Posted by Stan Collender

Question: Is it really possible to look at this story by Jonathan Weisman from yesterday's The New York Times without shrieking?

Former Virginia Governor and Senator George Allen, the Republican who's running for his old Senate seat this year against Democrat Tim Kaine, another former governor, used to campaign as someone who would make the hard choices and cut spending, that is, as a fiscal conservative.

But as Weisman's story definitively shows, Allen this year is campaigning against the $55 billion in military spending reductions that will occur if the sequester occurs as scheduled on January 2, 2013.

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