Republicans won a blockbuster victory in November’s election after a campaign focused on cutting government spending and reducing debt. Then they got the bad news: Americans are leery of cutting specific programs.
These include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national defense, veterans’ benefits, education, highways, mass transit, unemployment benefits, agriculture and the environment. A post-election poll by YouGov/Polimetrix found that the public favors cuts only in foreign aid.
So since House Republicans decided that their 2012 budget, to be released in April, would take on a wide range of popular programs as well as entitlements, Democrats have been elated. They believe Republicans have foolishly walked into a trap.
Perhaps not. Republicans have a better chance of succeeding with an agenda of budget cuts than at any time since President Ronald Reagan pushed significant reductions through Congress in 1981. Yes, their task will be arduousâbut they have grounds for optimism.
The Democratic strategy of bewailing cuts in every domestic program has become an anachronism. The public knows there’s something larger at stake. Rarely has there been a better opportunity to do the right thing for the country. And Republicans have a chance to seize it.