Michael Barone

Let's put government on a diet. That's what voters seem to be saying in response to the Barack Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government.

Evidence comes from pollster Scott Rasmussen. He asked likely voters -- his usual sample, which tilts more Republican than all adults -- whether increased government spending is good or bad for the economy.

The results were unambiguous. Good for the country? Twenty-eight percent. Bad for the country? Fifty-two percent.

He got similar results when he asked whether increasing the federal debt is good or bad for the economy. Likely voters believe it's bad for the economy by a 56 percent to 17 percent margin.

There is some dissent, from the voters Rasmussen labels the Political Class. These are voters who trust the judgment of America's political leaders over that of the American people, who do not believe the federal government has become a special interest group and who don't believe government and big business work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.

In other words, they're the people The New York Times' David Brooks refers to as "the educated class." Or those voters in Cambridge and Brookline who stuck with the Democratic nominee in the special Senate election last January.

Two-thirds of Rasmussen's Political Class voters believe that increased government spending would be good for the economy. These voters resemble those "practical men, who," in John Maynard Keynes' words, "believe themselves quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

The defunct economist in this case is Keynes himself, who argued in the 1930s for the government to hire some men to dig holes and others to fill them up. Political Class voters, who wouldn't dream of digging holes themselves, still think this is a good idea. Most Americans don't.

Further evidence comes from a poll conducted by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies in the always key state of Ohio, where unemployment is well above the national average and job growth has been minimal for a decade.

Registered voters were asked to choose responses to Ohio state government's $8 billion budget deficit. Only 16 percent favored increasing taxes, while 27 percent wanted to cut government services and a whopping 50 percent favored reducing the compensation packages of government workers.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM