In early October, as the meltdown of the financial industry gained momentum following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 59% of U.S. voters agreed with Ronald Reagan that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Since then, the stock markethas fallen roughly 3,000 points, millions of jobs have been lost, nearly a trillion dollars has been spent so far to bail out the financial industry, an additional $787-billion government stimulus package has been approved, and a new president has taken office who has proposed spending billions and billions more.
Despite all that, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows that the basic views of the American people have not change: 59% of voters still agree with Reagan’s inaugural address statement. Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.
I have to think that all of this could pay dividends for Republicans if the GOP can win the public relations war over the size of the Obama stimulus package, the budget, the deficits the Administration is running up, the taxes they want to raise, and the way in which the Administration is working to bring back the era of Big Government. Ecstasies over a New New Deal notwithstanding, the public is not in the mood for bigger government and can be persuaded to give a big thumbs-down to the Administration’s efforts to expand government if only White House spin is not allowed to trump the facts of the Administration’s domestic program.
It may be Barack Obama’s White House. But it is still Ronald Reagan’s America. If the latter sees clearly that the Administration’s policy priorities are antithetical to its own, we will look back on talk of the GOP’s decline and laugh.