April 24, 2009


Yanks in Crisis (DAVID BROOKS, 4/24/09, NY Times)

The crisis has not sent Americans running to government for relief. Nor has it led to a populist surge in anti-business sentiment. In a recent Gallup poll, 55 percent of Americans said that big government is the biggest threat to the country. Only 32 percent said big business. Those answers are near historical norms.

Americans have always been skeptical of activist government, and that skepticism remains. When Gallup asked specifically about the current crisis, 44 percent of Americans said they disapprove of an expanded role for government during the crisis; 39 percent said they approve of an expanded role but want it reduced when the crisis is over; and only 13 percent want to see a permanently expanded role for government.

When asked by the National Journal group more specifically where good ideas and financial solutions come from, 40 percent said corporate America and 40 percent said government. When asked what could best enhance income security, half of all Americans said it was a matter of individual responsibility, 19 percent said government regulations like increasing the minimum wage were most effective and 15 percent said government programs.

The area where the National Journal poll found the most desire for government activism is health care. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that while there is less support for a health care overhaul than there was in 1993, the public still wants reform that at least improves the current system.

My friend Ron Brownstein of The National Journal looks at the data and concludes that while Americans are still skeptical of government, they are open to rethinking what the social safety net should look like in the 21st century.

The Right is stuck under the delusion that it will look like the 19th Century version and the Left that it will look like the 20th.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2009 7:43 AM
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