"Everything is Unpopular"
The other day, Chris Bowers linked to a very interesting 2007 Harris poll showing massive public opposition to basically everything. There was, for example, overwhelming opposition to raising taxes in order to close the budget deficit:
But there’s also overwhelming opposition to the sort of spending cuts that could possible close the deficit:
People want to cut . . . the space program. Unfortunately, if you make a chart of what the federal government spends money on space doesn’t show up, because it’s $17.6 billion budget is tiny relative to the size of the federal government. And note that space is the only line item to secure majority support for cuts primarily because Democrats apparently hate outer space. Democrats hate space and are lukewarm on defense. Republicans don’t want to cut anything! And in particular, Republicans overwhelming oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security which account for by far the majority of domestic spending.
On tax specifics, the public actually does a bit better and is willing to support exactly two kinds of tax increases—hikes on booze and on cigarettes:
Cigarette taxes are already a good deal higher than they were back when this poll was taken, since that’s how congress elected to pay for SCHIP expansion. Consequently, the booze tax hikes I’ve been talking about may well be in the works. That said, the larger moral of the story is that public opinion is pathologically delusional everywhere and not just in California. What you want are institutions that result in politicians being held accountable for results—you tend to lose your seat if your governance leads to disaster—rather than accountable for adherence to public views on particular issues.