Here is today’s must-see: an instantly understandable chart from Stanford economist John Taylor, in today’s Wall Street Journal. If you’re confused by all the numbers being thrown around on government spending, this will make things clear for you. (Follow this link and scroll halfway down the page.)
According to Taylor, there are a couple of take-aways here: that the president’s proposed budget would keep his unprecedented levels of spending in place for the next decade, and that Rep. Paul Ryan's budget brings government spending back down to 2007 levels without raising taxes. [See editorial cartoons about the federal budget and deficit.]
And I’ll add a third thing, which is that I think the Obama budget, with all the spending it entails, is one of the factors feeding today’s high wrong-track numbers, which have just hit 70 percent, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll out this morning. If we can keep government spending and debt down in order to unleash private investment in our economy, perhaps Americans will be more optimistic about things. The good news is that Americans seem to know that, and support cutting federal spending by a margin of 58 percent to 29 percent among all adults. But with the budget negotiations dragging on, and the level of rhetoric heating up, it’s no wonder Americans are getting increasingly pessimistic about the economy and the budget. Thirty-nine percent of those polled say the economy is getting worse, up from 26 percent last month and a 13-point jump just since March. They seem to disapprove of the job both sides are doing, and by wide margins. That’s because they want to get the job done and stop all the excuses. [Read the U.S. News debate: Should Congress raise the national debt limit?]
Spending is only one piece of the puzzle, along with rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment, higher bills at the grocery store, constant turmoil overseas, a seemingly endless onslaught of natural disasters and severe weather, reality-TV craziness in pop culture, and two expensive wars that very few Americans seem to want to continue. As Peggy Noonan put it wisely in her column, “We have work to do at home, on our culture and in our country.” I can’t agree more. People are itching to move forward and put the worst behind us.