Nearly two months after the April 15 Tea Party protests it hits the Beltway chattering class: this deficit thing could be big! Well, yes. Politico explains:
Republicans on Capitol Hill think they’ve finally found Barack Obama’s Achilles’ heel: rising public concern about government spending and the federal deficit.
While Obama’s overall job-approval ratings are up over the past month, a Gallup Poll out this week has a 51 percent majority of Americans disapproving of the president’s efforts to control federal spending and a slim 48 percent to 46 percent disapproving of his handling of the federal deficit.
While it is not surprising that Republicans are quoted in this and other articles, pointing out the gap between the president’s popularity and public concern about the out-of-control spending, what is noteworthy is that Democrats are already nervous:
Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, one of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats, senses a risk for his party on the deficit issue.
“I do believe that we need to make every effort to get our hands around it and not let it just be on auto-pilot; then the American people will understand that, and that will eliminate part of the political risk,” Nelson said. “But if it appears that there is not a strong focus on it and there is no sufficient effort to try to control it, then I think it’s a major political risk.”
And the Senate Budget Committee chairman, Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), was critical of the White House’s pay-go plan for proposing that the budgeting process need not apply to Medicare payments to physicians, patching the alternative minimum tax and for Bush-era tax cuts.
“While I very much favor putting statutory pay-go back on the books, I don’t support waiving pay-go for trillions of dollars of items that I think have to be paid for,” Conrad said Tuesday.
What could they do? Well for starters, they could stop it. Stop the enormous spending and borrowing. That would put a crimp in healthcare, but if more voters worried about the spend-a-thon than healthcare reform (which has dropped to its lowest ranking as a voter concern in two years) that would be a wise political move. Other polling shows the public evenly split on whether to tackle healthcare now or later. And 8 in 10 Americans are happy with the quality of healthcare they receive, although most would like to control costs.
Unless, of course, those on the ballot think the president’s personal popularity will insulate them from the wrath of the voters. In that case, they should keep on spending like drunken sailors.
One thing is for certain: the White House and the mainstream media couldn’t figure out why all those people were out protesting in April. It took them two months to catch up to the grassroots concern that recession or not, we’re spending and borrowing too much. Wait until they hear about the taxes needed to pay for it.