‘People Don’t Like Government’

Gloria Borger, seriously, will you please go now?

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.


7 thoughts on “‘People Don’t Like Government’

  1. Government employees ARE treated differently than most folks with ‘regular’ jobs: they are paid anywhere from 15-40% less salary for their work than they would typically receive in the regular’ job market, though their compensation usually includes above average health care and other insurance coverage via their institution’s participation in large group pools.
    People may not ‘like’ government the same way they don’t ‘like’ electricity. They don’t understand how it works or what all it takes to make it but they expect it to be there when they hit the switch.

  2. I’m more convinced than ever that Obama is really a moderate Republican, while the Republican Party has gone full metal batshit insane.
    And while this might suit the Villagers just fine, I don’t think the public is all that thrilled by a choice between conservative and insane. I also don’t think it does much to solve the real problems facing the country, beginning with almost 10 percent unemployment.
    I understand the difference between political rhetoric and the reality of governing, but Obama was elected by promising “change,” not “tiny, incremental, can’t even really see it change,” and not “change, but still Republican-Lite” change. It doesn’t help him politically and it doesn’t help him re: policy.
    And what’s really frustrating is that if he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be moderate Republicanism that’s blamed, but an alleged liberalism that was never there in the first place.

  3. And take Shailagh Murray and Perry Bacon Jr.with you (slight liberties taken):

    President Obama and congressional Republicans expressed determination Tuesday to reach an agreement on the tax cuts due to expire at year’s end, raising the possibility of a compromise that could avert aZOMG TAX INCREASE FOR VIRTUALLY EVERY AMERICAN WORKER!!!!!!

    Know what I want? For the government to print money and stuff it in the pockets of the unemployed. And you can raise my fucking taxes a few points to pay for it.

  4. And what’s really frustrating is that if he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be moderate Republicanism that’s blamed, but an alleged liberalism that was never there in the first place.
    Not unlike the last Democratic president we had. GAH.

  5. Please put this in an envelope and send it to Obama. Some staffer might enjoy reading it.

  6. Let’s make that last 3 Democratic Presidents. Carter’s record on domestic policy was to the right of Tricky Dick.
    LBJ was the last liberal President but he screwed the pooch with Vietnam. So it goes.

  7. Adrastos, I agree totally about Carter, whom I consider the original neo-liberal…but that didn’t stop his very name from being the favorite Republiclown spat-out perjoritive as the embodiment of…oh, how did St. Ronnie, Patron of the Laffer Curve put it?
    “Weakness and vacillation,” which became by-words for…liberalism.
    To be honest, I didn’t expect all that much from Obama, but I WAS hoping he’d at least be a little more like JFK than Carter (note: I’m not implying that Kennedy was a particularly good president, but he at least made cold-war liberalism look, well, stylish.)

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