Earlier this year, lots of our friends on the left made arguments similar to this one from E. J. Dionne:
President Obama’s message to the nation Tuesday night was plain and unequivocal: The era of bashing government is over. So, too, is the folklore of a marketplace capable of producing abundance without regulation, government oversight or public intervention . . .
Aware that it is battling anti-government assumptions that are deeply rooted after a long conservative era, the administration will campaign to demonstrate that the stimulus money is being spent wisely and on programs the public sees as worthy. “We have to win this fight on the stimulus package,” said one official, noting that getting the legislation passed was only the first battle. Ultimately, he said, a public reeling under rising unemployment rates will need to be convinced that government is actually improving its lot.
Dionne’s column was titled, “Obama’s pitch for faith in government.”
Let’s take a look at how voters in New Jersey feel about government, from Quinnipiac this morning:
New Jersey voters support 75 – 21 percent, including 70 – 26 percent among Democrats, a wage freeze for state workers to help balance the state budget, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today, three weeks after Christopher Christie toppled Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. A wage freeze wins 75 – 20 percent support from independent voters and 79 – 16 percent backing from Republicans. Voters in union households back a wage freeze 62 – 33 percent.
Garden State voters also support 61 – 33 percent layoffs for state workers to help balance the state budget, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. Support ranges from 50 – 43 percent among Democrats to 65 – 29 percent among independent voters to 69 – 25 percent among Republicans. Voters in union households split 49 – 48 percent.
A total of 97 percent of New Jersey voters say the state’s budget problems are “very serious” or “somewhat serious.”
Cut programs and services to balance the budget, 68 percent say, as 23 percent say raise taxes instead. Service cuts win 46 – 43 percent support from Democrats, 73 – 18 percent backing from independent voters and 86 – 8 percent backing from Republicans.
“If Governor-elect Christopher Christie wants to consider a wage freeze, New Jersey voters, even Democrats and union households, say send out for ice,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And if he’s thinking about swinging the ax, voters will help sharpen it. Garden State voters agree with their new Governor – overwhelmingly – that the state’s in a fiscal mess. And they agree he should use the ax, not the tax, to solve the problem.”
When 50 percent of Democrats, and 49 percent of union households support laying off government workers, the verdict is clear: For these voters in this state, government isn’t working.
I suspect New Jerseyans are not alone in that perspective.