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April 12, 2011

Important Budget Stuff That's All Stolen From Hot Air

I've been avoiding this because it's embarrassing to keep linking and swiping but it's important stuff.

By a 20 point margin, the public favors the budget deal. 58% to 38%.

Now, here's the weird, frustrating thing:

By a 48 to 35 percent margin, the public thinks Democrats are more responsible than the GOP for the late Friday night agreement, which prevented a shutdown of some government services and offices.

What? Both sides came to a deal but by 48% to 35% they credit one side as responsible for it? This is a poll of adults, not likely voters, but it shows this continuing, frustrating identification with the Democratic Party that almost half the country has.

Now, as for the deal being popular: I would say that gives the GOP a green light to push for further cuts in the debt ceiling debate and 2012 budget. Maybe the country thinks $38.5 billion is the exact amount necessary to cut and will punish anyone seeking more, but there's no reason to think that's likely the case; it's more likely that if they liked $38.5 billion they'll like $60 billion or $100 billion or even a trillion even more.

I am frustrated with a certain segment of the public that is just apolitical and seems to have few strong opinions at all, other than their apparent belief that democratic processes are "disgusting."

A weekend survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post finds that “ridiculous” is the word used most frequently to describe the budget negotiations, followed by “disgusting,” “frustrating,” “messy,” “disappointing” and “stupid.”

Overall, 69% of respondents use negative terms to describe the budget talks, while just 3% use positive words; 16% use neutral words to characterize their impressions of the negotiations. Large majorities of independents (74%), Democrats (69%) and Republicans (65%) offer negative terms to describe the negotiations.

I can imagine that many political-attuned people might describe the negotiations that way because they're either frustrated that the other side won't give or their own side isn't fighting hard enough; that's an understandable thing.

But look at all the "independents" describing the negotiations negatively. Many independents -- and I mean here the apathetic, unexamined-life sort of people who are independent not due to a true informed choice but rather because they haven't even bothered figuring out what they believe -- are calling the negotiations "disgusting."

What do they mean? Presumably -- this has always been my sense -- they don't like political controversies because they tend to force them to take a position, which is what they don't want to do, and they want to be left out of it. They seem to like their politics in background, not fussing them. They don't like when there's news happening and people trying to persuade them; they want to just be left out of it.

So when a big issue is on the table, instead of actually taking a position, they tend to take the position that both sides are bad and they should just come to a compromise and shut up.

It's frustrating that they're like that. Sorry to bother you with great matters of national policy that will affect future generations for 100 years. So sorry we brought this matter to your attention.

On the other hand, this kind of doltish, uninformed voter (again, I speak of the lazy independents, not the true independents of considered choice) will tend to go along with anything once it's passed.

It's passed? Oh, no more arguing? Good, I'm in favor of it then.

This means that with this critical subgroup we can, as the hardliners say, do an awful lot of stuff they don't like, or don't think they like, but the moment the deal is done they'll tend to approve it, because they just tend to approve the status quo and whatever result is imposed on them. As long as they are spared the arguing.

The budget deal is only, at best, a tentative first step, but there are some boons in it I didn't know about.

The CR terminates funding for more than 55 programs, for a total savings of well over $1 billion. In addition, the bill terminates two programs funded in ObamaCare (the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) and the Free Choice Voucher programs).

Small-ball stuff, price-tag wise -- 55 programs eliminated but only $1 billion saved? Nevertheless, it's a good thing to start cutting back on all these government programs.

As for the ObamaCare stuff, that's important symbolically. It is some progress towards repeal, even if not much.

In addition, four "czars" were defunded -- Health Care, Climate Change, Automobiles, and Urban Affairs. Two of those are redundant and the other two are, what's the word I'm looking for, stupid.

Here's one more good thing in the budget: Defense's budget was raised by $5 billion increase from FY10.

Now, I actually think that even the DoD must face some cuts, so I'm not applauding the increase in spending per se. But if DoD actually got a $5 billion boost, that means the cuts to everything else are $5 billion higher, right?

If the total cuts were $38.5 billion, but defense got a $5 billion boost, the rest of the cuts would have to be $43.5 billion, right?

Still not a lot, still not enough, but it's something.

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posted by Ace at 03:08 PM

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