Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What People Feel About Government Spending

Reading the Big Government article American Public Think 50 Percent Of Federal Budget Is Wasted, by Dan Mitchell, in which the author cites the Wall Street Journal article Our $2 Trillion Bridge To Nowhere, by Stephen Moore.  In the article, if you could not tell by the title, discusses how these figures are encouraging, presumably to the conservatives, because that means Americans would be more open to ideas of smaller government.  The Mitchell piece is only a paragraph, and cites zero facts, so by first read, you would think that a majority of Americans feel the government is wasteful.  Because I wanted to know the figures, I decided to read the Wall Street Journal article, where Mitchell got his information.

The Wall Street Journal cites a poll, which posed this question:
"Of every tax dollar that goes to Washington, D.C., how many cents of each dollar would you say is wasted?
According to Gallup, the mean response was fifty cents.  The article does not state majority, but the mean, which if we all recall from any math class, is the sum of all the respondant's answers divided by the number of answers.  This means if you had 10 people who took this poll, with 2 people believing 25 cents, 4 people believing 35 cents, and 4 people believing 90 cents, the mean could just as well have been 55 cents, even though a majority of people believe waste is far less.  Also in response to another question asking if there was "too much government regulation of business and industry", the number of people believing there is too much is almost double that of those who believe there is too little, but the results of the poll, as cited in the Wall Street Journal do not paint the entire picture.  The actual results to the previous question list the percentages of 45% to 24%, and so Moore's assertion that there are more people who believe in less regulation, but those results are only 69% of the answers given.  What do the other 31% of people say?

The columnist goes on to mention the election of Obama is a contradiction to the desires of the American people and that the "Republicans' strategy of creating a unified bloc of "no" votes to Obama spending initiatives like government-run health care and the cap-and trade-energy bill is in line with where voters are" and that Americans "don't want bipartisan cooperation", or at least in expanding the role of government, but I could have sworn in the midst of the economic crisis last year, law makers, both Republican and Democrat, felt compelled to act because that is what their constituency wanted...

Author Moore believes Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats should combine forces for a "radical shrinking of government in order to reduce debt and waste".  He later writes that "over the last decade, the federal government has become bloated and inefficient. Voters are on to the scam.", but fails to mention that Republicans controlled government for the majority of those years.

I do agree with Moore on one thing.  He states that the government should eliminate useless or obsolete agencies and require any repaid TARP funds to go towards paying back down the debt.

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