There is unquestionably both a cranky mood in public opinion, and a populist distrust of government efficacy right now. But I find it striking how willing many in the press and in politics are to give credence to surface-level claims by the “tea party” movement and others that the public wants to see less spending in Washington. As Bruce Bartlett observes, when you ask people which areas of government activity they want to see spending cuts in, all they can come up with is foreign aid:
Common sense indicates that if conservative opponents of health care reform are spending tons of time on the Senate floor lambasting Democrats for cutting Medicare that even right-wing Americans don’t actually want to see less spending. And that’s what you see in these poll results.