Tea Party Crowd in the Minority on Government Expansion, Poll Shows

Sorry, Tea Partyers, you're in the minority.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Tea Party celebrants aside, Americans are not too upset about the growth of government, according to a new poll.

When I posted earlier about today's Tea Party movement, noting that polls show Americans are more sanguine this year about taxes than they have been in a while, a number of friends and readers chided me—not entirely unfairly—that the Tea Partyers are more amped about government spending and the growth of government than about tax rates.

For example, Kris of IL wrote:

You missed the point

This is about collectivism taking hold. This is about taking back our individual liberties. This is about protesting against government acting reckless with our money, spending it like drunken sailors. You are very misguided if you think its just about taxes. We've had enough of Democrats forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for more wasteful spending—we don't want to see our hard-earned tax dollars wasted on pork-barrel spending. At this point we are just mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren. The government will continue to devalue the currency and 1) hurt those that spend (because those dollars are worth less) and 2) hurt the poorest Americans because we are a nation that imports significantlly and they will be hurt most by higher prices.

Fair enough. I don't share the Tea Set's collectivism concern, but my first post may have focused overmuch on taxes. So here, according to Gallup, is how Americans feel about the growing government: We approve of the expansion of the U.S. government to help fix the U.S. economy by a margin of 53-44 percent.

This is another blow to the GOP delusion that the United States is a fundamentally conservative country and that Republicans would still be in power if they had hewed to smaller-government principles. (I'm not saying that we're a fundamentally liberal country, but a fundamentally non-ideological country.)

Delving deeper into the data, there are a couple of interesting trends—and ones from which Kris of IL and other Tea Timers can take some comfort. For example, 39 percent of Americans want to roll back the government expansion once the current crisis has been concluded. And while 46 percent of Americans think that Obama wants to expand government power by the right amount (40 percent think government is getting too big), they think he wants to spend too much money (55 percent to 33 percent).

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