If you think the federal government is too big, most Americans agree with you.
The latest Gallup poll reveals that a majority of Americans (54 percent) think the federal government is trying to do too much. In the 25 years that Gallup has gauged “Americans’ Views of Government Role,” the American public has always answered the same, with two exceptions. In 1993, when concerns about the economy were especially high and Bill Clinton came into office, and immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Americans thought that government should do more.
But that feeling didn’t last long.
In the Clinton and Obama years, the percentage of Americans who thought government is doing too much stayed at higher levels than in the George W. Bush years. Gallup says that “[t]his most likely reflects a counteraction to perceptions that the two Democratic presidents were oriented toward increasing the government’s role.”
And indeed, the size and role of government has increased unabated the past 25 years, even under President Bush. (Remember Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind? Oh, and trillion-dollar budgets.)
While a majority of Americans think government is too big, studies repeatedly show that when it comes down to actual solutions, answers are sparse. Americans don’t want cuts and major reforms to entitlement spending — specifically Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending — which is the main driver of our $19 trillion national debt.
A 2011 New York Times/CBS News poll found that seven out of 10 Americans thought increasing deficits were a “very serious” problem, but “when asked to choose among cuts to Medicare, Social Security, or the nation’s third-largest spending program — the military — a majority by a large margin said cuts to the Pentagon.”
A 2016 Public Policy Poll shows that a staggering 88 percent of Americans oppose cutting Social Security benefits. A majority of Americans also said: they oppose privatizing Social Security by investing retirement money in the stock market (68 percent), are less likely to vote for a politician who thinks Social Security benefits should be cut (80 percent), and oppose raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility (62 percent).
While Americans don’t want to see cuts to entitlement programs, something will have to change — and soon. As The Daily Signal reported, entitlement spending, on the current trajectory, will absorb all federal revenue in just 17 years. That means there will be no money to pay the interest on our national debt, for national security and defense, for anything.
When will things change, though? The Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, rarely ever talks about entitlement spending. When he does, he says he doesn’t want to make cuts, particularly to Social Security; he wants to find a way to save it. Naturally, Hillary Clinton also opposes cuts to entitlement spending.
Our presidential nominees aren’t the only ones who don’t want to do anything substantive to avoid the impending cliff — neither does Congress. As National Review has noted, the number of times “debt” or “deficit” was mentioned in Congress dropped sharply between 2011 and 2015, and Congress has left entitlement spending largely untouched.
Regardless of how many politicians, Republican or Democrat, want to avoid the inconvenient topic, in a few years they won’t be able to ignore it anymore. And the American voters shouldn’t ignore it, either. In order to lessen the impact of Social Security or Medicare going bankrupt, it would be better to start addressing the inevitable now. That requires courage, though, and when you look at Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or the “leaders” in Congress, is that the first word that comes to mind? (For more from the author of “Americans Agree: Big Government Sucks but They Aren’t Willing to Cut Any of Its Programs” please click HERE)