Thursday, February 28, 2013

So what if the American people are with Obama on spending?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Fix:

For the past several years, congressional Republicans have focused relentlessly on a single message: Washington — led by President Obama — is spending too much money, and it needs to stop.

But according to new Washington Post-ABC News polling, that laser-like focus isn't helping Republicans win the argument over federal spending — with 67 percent of those tested disapproving of the "way Republicans in Congress are handling federal spending."

This is good news, of course, what with the sequester battle shortly coming to a head. But of course these polls do not take place within a vacuum.

The fact of the matter is, discretionary spending -- pretty much everything government does other than the military and entitlement programs -- is at an historic low thanks to the right-wing ideology that pervades both parties, if more the aggressively right-wing one than the other, along with the national media and most of the rest of the Beltway establishment.

Conservatives have basically spent the past several decades waging war on government, working to undo the gains of the New Deal and Great Society, preferring their brand of the Hobbesian state of nature (where the rich and powerful prevail) to any sort of fair and just society. They haven't entirely won the war, but they've won enough of it to set the (narrow) parameters for "mainstream" debate, and it's within those parameters that the current sequestration conflict, along with current budgetary "debate" generally, is taking place.

So, yes, fine, the American people -- for whatever it's worth; however much their opinion matters; however much they understand any of this -- prefer Obama to the Republicans on spending, at least right now. But where is Obama on spending? Well, preferable to the Republicans, of course, but not exactly progressive. Not even close.

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