Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The poll question that really matters...

A lot has been made recently of the hordes of polls that have come out showing Bush's approval rating at its lowest point ever and etc. etc. And while that is certainly encouraging, this is the poll question I find most fascinating (an AP/Ipsos poll, clipped from the National Journal Hotline):

How Should US Pay For Kat. Relief?
Cut spending on Iraq 42%
Delay/cancel tax cuts 29
Add to debt 14
Cut other spending 11

To me, this is really shocking. I imagined the "cut spending" number to be substantially higher. 42% alone is substantially more than the number of registered Democrats in the country, which means even many independents think that we should delay/cancel tax cuts or cut Iraq spending before we cut domestic programs like Medicare or Medicaid (which is what many conservative Republicans are proposing). Despite the never-ending conservative crusade for the nebulous ideal of "smaller government," this seems like a ringing endorsement of Americans' committment to the idea that government can and should help people, even if it means higher taxes or having to spend less on the military. An oversimplification, to be sure, but I do think Democrats can seize on the contrast between the government's woeful failure to deal with the immediate aftermath of Katrina and the great potential government has to make a real difference in the lives of people affected by the disaster as a metaphor for the terrible fallacy of Grover Norquist-style fend-for-yourself conservatism.

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