Friday, May 24, 2013

Ouch! It Really Did Hurt. Who Would Have Thought?

What that "it" is are government budget cuts:

The federal budget sequester may be dampening a rise in economic optimism: Nearly four in 10 Americans now say sequestration has hurt them personally, up substantially since it began in March – and they’re far less sanguine than others about the economy’s prospects overall.
Thirty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’ve been negatively impacted by the budget cuts, up from 25 percent in March. As previously, about half of those affected say the harm has been “major.”


Perhaps surprisingly, given the partisan nature of the debate, views of the cuts don’t divide sharply along party lines. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans alike oppose the cuts – 59 and 54 percent, respectively – as do a similar 58 percent of independents.
One reason: Republicans are 14 points more apt than Democrats to say they’ve been harmed by the sequester. And among Republicans who’ve been hurt by the cuts, 68 percent disapprove of them. Among those unhurt, disapproval drops to 42 percent.
Ideology has an effect: Forty-seven percent of “very” conservative Americans approve of the cuts, as do 42 percent of those who call themselves “somewhat” conservative. It’s 36 percent among moderates and 24 percent among liberals. But again, impacts of the cuts are a bigger factor in views on the issue. Among conservatives hurt by the cuts, 65 percent disapprove of them; among those unhurt, just 34 percent disapprove.
Similarly, 66 percent of Tea Party supporters who’ve been damaged by the cuts disapprove, vs. 44 percent of those who report no personal impact.

Bolds are mine.

Many years ago I read a political science study which argued that people who want government spending cuts do understand what they are voting for.  The background to the study was the possibility that voters with those views somehow might think that government can be cut back without any negative effects on themselves.  I believed that many people don't expect to be negatively affected by such cuts, even though they will be, and that made the study interesting to me.

I haven't kept up with the field.  Perhaps other studies had different findings.  But I still suspect that some voters may not think their decisions through in the longer-term sense, that they don't think of the street outside the house as something that is maintained through taxes, for example.  The street, after all, just is there and probably has "always" been there, and in any case isn't the government just frittering away our heard-earned money?

Waste obviously happens in the government.  But it would be naive to assume that the cuts would be just some kind of waste with no negative effects anywhere.

This may be far too boring.  But I'd really like to know if the drown-the-government-in-a-bathtub people truly want to live in a country with no public infrastructure or other services we really take for granted in the US.