Similarly, administration economists evidently thought the private-sector economy could bear the burden of a national debt that doubled over a decade. It would bounce back like it usually does in a business cycle recession.
Tea partiers took a different view -- and before long, so did most voters. They seem to believe that permanent increases in government's share of GDP will inflict permanent damage on the private-sector economy -- and won't do much, if anything, to move us out of this prolonged financial crisis recession. The evidence so far seems to support them.
In addition, they seem to have understood that the threat of higher tax rates and more onerous and intrusive regulation from this administration would deter business executives from expanding, entrepreneurs from creating jobs, investors from taking risks and consumers from buying things.
Larry Summers could tell business leaders that they had nothing significant to fear from a sophisticated economic adviser like himself. But he was working for a president who told ABC's Charlie Gibson that he would favor higher capital gains tax rates even if they brought in less revenue to the government. This is a president who likes taking rich people's money away from them.
The business leaders know that Summers has gone, while the voters know that Obama remains and will be in office two more years -- but without a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and, perhaps, a Democratic majority in the Senate, if the polls are right.
The line from the Obama camp is that voters are confused, ignorant, misled or even racist; they can't be rejecting the president's party on the merits. But voters, in rejecting the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of government, may be more sophisticated than their supposed betters. Leave the private sector alone, they seem to be saying, so it can recover from the financial crisis recession and once again create the bounteous and unscripted growth that has been the norm in American history.