One reason Obama did so well in last fall’s presidential election was that moderate voters believed him when he promised a “net spending cut.” Many, once reliable Republican voters, no longer trusting the GOP on spending, agreed with the Democratic nominee that were “living beyond our means” and needed “to make some adjustments.”
While these voters may have trusted the newcomer to the national stage, many on the right, including yours truly, never believed him. It wasn’t just his liberal voting record. It was also his partisan pedigree. Democrats have traditionally held onto power by turning on the federal spigot to pay off various interest groups.
And while I certainly appreciate that the President is finally considering a “domestic spending freeze” and will commend him should he succeeded in effecting it–should he freeze spending (adjusted from inflation) at the levels they were when he took office, I highly doubt he’ll get this done. From one standpoint the move makes a lot of political sense; it would endear the Democrat to the independents who have been abandoning his party in droves.
But, in winning back independents in such a manner, he’d dispirit his base. Heading into mid-term elections, Democrats can’t afford to antagonize those groups dependent on the largesse of and special treatment from the federal government.
Should Obama succeed in implementing such a freeze, I do hope he’ll apologize to his 2008 opponent for dismissing his plan to do just that. When John McCain brought up the topic in the first debate last September, Obama quickly shot it down, “The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.”
Here’s hoping the President whips out that hatchet and that he doesn’t freeze into place the big budget boondoggles of his erstwhile Congressional colleagues.