Many politicians have an annoying habit of putting their own opinions in the mouth of “the American people.” But Tea Party favorite Rep. Mike Pence showed particular audacity yesterday.
Appearing on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Pence announced his opposition to the tax cut compromise because, The American people did not vote for more stimulus.”
Oh really? Tell that to the American people.
Only 34% of Americans say in the ABC/W. Post poll that they “oppose this agreement because it will increase the federal deficit by 900 billion dollars,” while a whopping 62% said, “it’s worth it in order to let people have more money to spend while the economy is still weak.”
That’s 62% backing a straight-up deficit-spending Keynesian stimulus argument and rejecting the Austerity Now! view of the deficit hysterics.
Now, I share concerns of my fellow liberals that this is not a balanced stimulus package, as it lacks any public investment for direct job creation. There’s no need to oversell the potential economic impact of the deal.
But we can herald the deal as slamming the door on premature deficit reduction, so we can re-focus Washington on what else can be done to create jobs now.
While some our conservative opponents are drunk on victory juice, ignoring the public mood and misreading their mandate, we can build on the expected tax compromise passage to argue for complementary jobs package that would repair and modernize our infrastructure — something that even the Chamber of Commerce claims to support.
There is plenty of appetite in America to do more on jobs. There is clearly enough appetite in Washington to put aside deficit hysteria when it comes to tax cuts and jobless aid. This is fertile ground with which to work.
But if let tea partiers like Rep. Pence speak on behalf of “the American people,” we will have missed this moment.