Sorry, foreign aid only makes up 1 percent of our budget
Republicans and people obsessed with tax breaks for the rich know that Americans hate “government spending” and “deficits.”
This hatred of Washington DC’s largess isn’t built on actual animosity for what government does; Americans actually love specific government services and have no desire to cut them in any significant way. The twin vague menaces of “spending” and “deficit” implicitly suggest that by helping “them” the government will eventually not be able to help you.
Beyond the guarantees of defense from invaders, protection from crime and clean water, Americans expect the government to enable our success and make life a little better with essential niceties like national parks. Nearly all of us want Medicaid, unemployment benefits and food stamps to be there if necessary. And about nine out of ten Americans expect Medicare and Social Security to ensure that our retirement isn’t spent in squalor.
A new Harris Poll finds what most polls that actually ask about funding specific programs find: vast majorities of the public have no desire to cut any specific government expenditures — except foreign aid.
Republicans know their posturing against “spending” and “deficits” is a winning issue when they’re not in power. But as we saw during the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, spending rises, even as funding for the safety net is either cut or purposely overextended in hopes of forcing cuts later.
Republicans and pundits immediately dismissed President Obama’s new budget because it includes programs that are funded, like the Affordable Care Act that have cut the deficit and seem to be shrinking our long-term debt. The president called for an end for tax breaks, including those that allow corporations to save billions by off-shoring and money managers like Mitt Romney to pay comically low rates.
The president is actually trying to pay for the things people want, so the right says he’s unserious.
Here in Michigan, Governor Snyder cut the money Michigan spent on students as he gave tax breaks to corporations. Now that he’s running for re-election, he has to fudge the numbers to try to hide those cuts — because he knows people like what that the government does.
As the GOP has pursued its fixation on tax cuts, Democrats have been forced to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Defending what government does may be a challenge in a vague sense, but being the party of protecting Medicare and Social Security is a winning strategy, which is why the GOP is doing its best to make sure we can’t afford either.
[Image via Robert Neff | Flickr]