For most of the life of this blog, I’ve advocated for politicians to ditch their jargon. Instead, I’ve argued that politicians should use the language of Main Street. This morning, while perusing RealClealPolitics, I gained a powerful ally in Scott Rasmussen. To avoid any confusion, I’ll first state that I met Scott Rasmussen last summer at the RightOnline Conference. That meeting, coupled with his many TV appearances, proved that he’s a man who uses Main Street Speak.
Here’s what Scott Rasmussen wrote that caught my attention:
This gap was highlighted by a recent Pew Research Center poll showing that “for 18 of 19 programs tested, majorities want either to increase spending or maintain it at current levels.”
On the surface, those results appear to support the Political Class conceit that voters like spending cuts in the abstract but not in specific programs. That’s the way it was reported by most media outlets.
But the reality is quite different. The Pew results actually show support for what official Washington would consider massive spending cuts.
Just to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Pew poll questions or results. The raw numbers are similar to what we find at Rasmussen Reports. The problem is with the way the numbers were reported.
The questions were asked using the language of America, but they were reported using the language of the Political Class.
To most Americans, maintaining spending at current levels would mean spending the same amount in 2013 as we spent in 2012. However, to those experienced in the mysterious ways of Washington, maintaining spending at current levels means spending $3.5 trillion this year and $4.5 trillion in five years. To most Americans, that’s a trillion dollars in spending growth.
The Political Class, on the other hand, would consider holding spending unchanged at current levels to be a massive spending cut. Why? Because it wouldn’t allow for the trillion dollar spending growth that is already built into the budget.
Normal people don’t expect pay raises on autopilot. The federal government does.
Washington, DC would throw a hissy fit if they were forced to use zero-based budgeting instead of using baseline budgeting. Without baseline budgeting helps DC pay off their political allies. Zero-based budgeting wouldn’t let that happen. That’s why politicians and lobbyists insist on baseline budgeting. Frankly, it makes their jobs easier.
Speaking candidly, I don’t want to make life easy for politicians or lobbyists. I’d prefer they have to justify every penny of their spending. That’s the only way to guarantee that every penny of the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely.
Thanks, Scott, for speaking so clearly on this important issue. Let’s just hope it’s contageous.