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Fiscal Conservatives Can't Like the Polls

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Democrats are feeling gloomy as their "infrastructure" bills are stuck in a fight between leftists and "centrists." Many predict that if these huge spending bills could be passed, then the midterm prospects for President Joe Biden and his party would look much brighter.

Will Saletan at Slate tweeted for the optimists: "Soon the infrastructure and reconciliation bills will pass. A year from now, COVID will be largely under control, supply chains will be restored, and the Afghan collapse will be forgotten."

Many Democrats cling tightly to the popularity of massive spending as Biden's approval rating keeps sinking. Fiscal conservatives should consider that if Congress ran the budget process by public polling, they would get rolled on a routine basis. Our national debt would skyrocket.

Every recent poll shows it. In early September, the ABC News/Washington Post pollsters asked, "From what you've heard or read about it, do you support or oppose the federal government spending three and a half trillion dollars on new or expanded social programs, educational assistance, and programs to address climate change?"

The result? Fifty-three percent in favor, and 41% opposed. Respondents don't seem to hesitate on the 3.5 trillion number because they want to be for "new or expanded social programs" and fighting "climate change."

Even a Fox News poll found this result in mid-September. They asked, "Do you favor or oppose the bill being considered by the U.S. House that would allocate an additional three and a half trillion dollars toward infrastructure, including spending to address climate change, health care and childcare?" Most Americans don't want to be seen as crabby people opposing happy-sounding things. It was 56% yes, and 39% no.

While the newest Quinnipiac poll in early October found a new low in Biden's approval rating (38%), they found support for massive spending.

They asked, "Do you support or oppose a roughly $1 trillion spending bill to improve the nation's roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure projects?" Yes, by 62% to 34%.

Then, on top of that: "Do you support or oppose a $3.5 trillion spending bill on social programs such as child care, education, family tax breaks, and expanding Medicare for seniors?" Yes, by 57% to 40%.

Pollsters don't make their respondents choose between spending priorities. It's not either/or; it's just and-and-and.

So, Democrats can crow that their agenda of happy-sounding spending polls well. No one seems to care about how many trillions are added to the deficit in the last decade, just as neither party seemed to care about deficits once Donald Trump was elected. One reason Trump succeeded where Romney/Ryan didn't? He wouldn't touch the happy-sounding entitlement spending such as Social Security and Medicare.

Will the Democrats have more hope of keeping the majority if they pass "ambitious" and "historic" spending? Or would it boomerang on them? We can only be sure that if it doesn't pass, the left is going to explode in anger.

They won by the narrowest of Senate majorities, and yet the radicals are pushing something that a New York Times reporter touted as "the most significant expansion of the nation's safety net since the war on poverty in the 1960s."

Free-spending Democrats always count on the liberal media to make the spending sound great with emotional terms such as "safety net" and "war on poverty." Faced with the media and their pollsters, fiscal conservatives are always going to sound like the nightmarish parents who send their kids to bed without supper.

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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