Too Much

Gallup releases some interesting data that hint at the reason Obama’s health-care salesmanship has fallen flat: the public has figured out he is a tax-and-spend liberal — and they don’t like it. Gallup explains:

Fueled by the sentiments of Republicans and independents, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 59% of Americans say President Obama’s proposals to address the major problems facing the country call for too much government spending, and 52% say Obama’s proposals call for too much expansion of government power.

At just the time his health-care critics are arguing that the House Democrats’ scheme (which he enthusiastically supports) is a massive expansion of government and a trillion-dollar (at least) expenditure, the public seems fed up with the spend-a-thon. Now it is possible that voters have been following the health-care debate and that has helped form their opinion of Obama’s predilections. But it is also possible that the cumulative effect of the stimulus pork-a-thon, the enormous budget, and the cap-and-trade bill has caught up with Obama. It may now be weighing him down as he goes to the well one more time for yet another jumbo government program.

In the long run, this may continue to hobble Obama, given the enormous budget deficit and his unwillingness to trim spending. Gallup concludes:

A good deal of Gallup data reinforce the idea that Americans are concerned about the long-term implications of increased levels of government spending and the expansion of government’s role in society that have become a part of the Obama administration’s efforts to deal with the recession. Obama receives his lowest approval ratings (out of seven issues tested in the July 17-19 poll) on handling the federal budget deficit (41% approve; 55% disapprove). Thus, the finding that a majority of Americans are worried that Obama’s proposals involve too much spending and too much big government are consistent with what would be expected — as are the very sharp partisan differences in these views.

It seems that the recession has not provided Obama with a pretext for vastly expanding government. The public has had quite enough of that. The question for Obama is whether he is flexible and savvy enough to shift course.