This week Congress passed budget blueprints consistent with the ambitious recommendations President Barack Obama presented at the end of February. Conservatives, who have not stopped howling about Obama’s “socialist” budget since then, are predictably negative on the bills that have passed the House and Senate, terming them a reckless and irresponsible expansion of government.
The public, however, does not seem so concerned. In a late March Democracy Corps poll, 61 percent agreed that, “In order to balance the budget in the long term, it is more important to make investments that will lead to new jobs and industries and create economic growth,” rather than, “In order to balance the budget in the long term, it is more important to limit the amount government spends on costly new programs” (37 percent).
And the public doesn’t buy the conservative line that Obama is trying to do too much by pursuing health care reform, clean energy, and a 21st-century educational system (as he does in his budget) when he should be focused only on the economy. In the same poll, 63 percent agreed that, “The challenges America faces are too big to ignore. President Obama is right to seek solutions on health care, energy, and education while still making the economy his top priority.” That’s compared to just 33 percent who thought that “President Obama is trying to do too much. He should put his entire focus on the economy and deal with health care, energy, and education when we’re through this crisis.”
Conservatives keep hoping that by stonewalling Obama’s agenda, they can convince the public that Obama isn’t focused on fixing the economy and is to blame for our continuing economic problems. But there’s a little problem with this strategy: the sorry record of the Bush administration in helping make the current economic mess a grim reality.
According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, the public has not forgotten Bush’s culpability—not by a long shot. When asked how much blame the Bush administration should be assigned for the country’s economic situation, 70 percent said “a great deal” or “a good amount.” The analogous figure for the Obama administration was just 26 percent.
Another conservative strategy, another conservative failure. You’d think they’d learn, wouldn’t you?