Doesn’t He Know That is What They Are Trying to Avoid
Understanding the American electorate with respect to government involves invoking schizophrenia. Americans really do not like government, and if you ask them if government spending should be reduced they will answer strongly in the affirmative. However once specific programs are identified their opinions reverse, and they dislike cutting any specific program.
Professional politicians understand this, which is why, for example, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan refused to spell out any programs other than support for Big Bird that they would cut. They wanted to cut Medicaid, the programs that stands between poor people and death by disease and injury and disabilities, so they proposed to block grant it to the states, thus avoiding the cuts themselves.
Karl Rove, the supposed political genius of the Republican party (at least in his own mind) doesn’t understand this, or at least not any more. Yes he understands the cutting spending by not mentioning programs part.
For example, in December 2012 76% of respondents in a Battleground Poll favored across-the-board spending cuts and 73% in a Rasmussen survey believed government should cut spending rather than increase it. In a September 2012 Public Notice Poll, 74% did not believe federal spending has helped the economy, while 86% said it has not helped their own personal situation.
And Republicans are on board. But what they want is for Mr. Obama to take the heat for naming specific programs. But Mr. Rove, in a burst of political naïveté wants to throw Republicans to the wolves, and proposes Republicans name the programs they would cut.
The GOP congressional leadership is right to say that they will not negotiate in private with Mr. Obama, and that tax increases are not on the table, especially after the president received $620 billion in new taxes to end the "fiscal cliff" crisis.
But this means House Republicans must pass a measure pairing specific spending cuts with a debt-ceiling increase that will have few, if any, Democratic votes.
Democrats have to be reading this and laughing, and wishing and hoping Republicans would be dumb enough to follow this advice. Of course, maybe they are.