We have some very encouraging polling data from CBS News. The American people prefer spending cuts over tax increases by a margin of more than 8-1.
Americans strongly prefer cutting spending to raising taxes to reduce the federal deficit. While 77 percent prefer to cut spending, just nine percent call for raising taxes. Another nine percent want to do both. …The most popular ideas for reducing the deficit are to reduce Social Security benefits for the wealthy, reduce the money allocated to projects in their own community, reduce farm subsidies and reduce defense spending. More than 50 percent supported reductions in each of those programs. …Forty-seven percent say it will be necessary to cut programs that benefit people like them to reduce the deficit.
These results show that the American people understand big government is the problem. And Republicans probably deserve some credit since they’ve been making the right noises about Obama’s misguided agenda.
But if you dig into the details of the poll, the GOP has done an inadequate job of helping people understand why various programs, departments, and agencies should be abolished. The polling data surely would be even better if Republicans were moving beyond general rhetoric and exposing specific examples of waste, fraud, and abuse. And public opinion presumably would be even stronger if Republicans were out there making a principled case that a big share of spending is for things that are not legitimate functions of the federal government.
In other words, Republicans have the ability to strengthen public opinion and get the American people even more excited about an agenda of principled, small-government federalism.