Gloria Borger: Why not give something first though? People don’t like government and this is an easy gimme for the president.
Borger: Can I just defend what the president did today? Sometimes I believe presidents have to make symbolic gestures. Ok? And this was symbolic, just look at your pie chart. And you’re about to get a report from the deficit commission you’re about to sit down tomorrow with congressional leaders. People care about deficit reduction, they don’t like the federal government very much, they think that federal employees are treated differently on their health care and on their pay increases, so he made a symbolic gesture. What’s wrong with that?
People don’t care about deficit reduction, except insofar as Republicans have convinced them the deficit is the source of their economic problems. And people would like the federal government just fine if its meager worker protections didn’t remind them how unutterably screwed they are in their own jobs, mostly thanks to 40 solid years of policies by Republicans.
And playing to that, by a Democratic president, is unconscionable. It’s a “symbolic” gesture in that it symbolically affirms everything Republicans say about how all your problems are caused by the Department of Education having one more order of office supplies than it needed last month or the NEH giving 60 cents to one too many performance artists. It doesn’t do shit for the deficit, it’s not gonna make Republicans like him, and it tells them and more importantly the American people that Republicans are right and government in general is evil and wrong.
So that’s what’s wrong with that, okay, Gloria?
People like government, actually. In lots and lots of cases people like government just fine. When it plows their streets, educates their children, guards their homes and businesses from lawlessness and throws them a Fourth of July parade now and again, they like government as much as anything. They’ve just been hammered with four decades of propaganda that says none of that is necessary (or none of that is government) and even if it is, they should be able to get it for less than it costs.
When that scenario doesn’t materialize, when things don’t happen by magic, they get told that the reason they’re getting less is that some federal worker somewhere is sitting on his ass collecting a pension, which has somehow in the past decade become some sign of laziness or welfare or something. And so they respond by giving less in hopes of getting more, and then, angrier, start hacking away, like trying to get a Snickers from the vending machine by decrying the dollar slot as socialism and whaling at the thing with an axe.
That is not something that should be encouraged by anyone, least of all the head of the party in charge of the government now being identified as the source of problems rather than the solving of them.