Democrats lose support; GOP gains none
New polling suggests that Democrats in congress are less popular than they have been in the recent past. Other polls suggest that President Obama has also had falling polling numbers.
This should be great news for Republicans, but voters still find Republicans out of step on most issues of importance to the nation. So what does this mean, and what might it mean for the 2010 mid-term elections?
The loss of support for Democrats may suggest three areas of voter concern. First, the health care debate has had no winners and the voters find the issue conflicting and confusing.
For those who reject any health care revisions, this is all good news. For most Americans it is probably all bad news. But certainly Democrats have looked less than competent in their handling of the issue, regardless of the effectiveness of the loyal opposition.
Second, as long as the job market is as difficult as it currently is, there will be little support for any party in power. Americans want to work, are the most productive workers on the planet, and have a right to earn living wages for their efforts. But the jobs remain elusive and whether through slow consumer sales or companies moving manufacturing out of the US, those jobs are not happening and more and more Americans remain unemployed or underemployed.
Third, as families are tightening their belts and trying to save rather than spend, the news is that we face federal deficits that are too large to bear over the next decade. Americans want their government to be frugal, not excessive, and they want to hear about spending reductions, not increases in the national debt.
For the Democrats there are several solutions. The President must explain to most Americans, those currently insured, why health care reform benefits them. And, he must explain how the reforms he intends will save money not cost money. Without those explanations, no rhetoric will matter and no support for health care will increase. If the President does explain these benefits the Democrats must pass reform this year, with or without Republican votes.
On the jobs issue we must be certain that we no longer have policies that reward companies for moving out of America, and the President must stand up for American workers when other countries subsidize products with government support to flood our markets with low priced goods designed to destroy domestic manufacturing.
The administration must strongly encourage the 11 states that have refused federal dollars to extend their unemployment benefits; workers need this support and the money is waiting to be spent on their security while they look for work.
On spending the President needs to explain to the American people that the deficits in our future are not a result of current spending, but of commitments already made to Medicare and Medicaid, and other on-going programs. The nation can no longer afford to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans by debt; those cuts must end. Nor can we afford to continue to support our troops in Iraq, they need to come home.
Republicans also have a simple path to a bright 2010. Stop supporting the crazies who are Birthers, Deathers, and Shouters and start getting serious about policy issues.
At one time Republicans were the party of fiscal responsibility, and they need to be that party once again. But not by silly accusations and false claims, but by serious ideas to reduce the future deficit projections while protecting the social safety net.
Americans want good government, and they want it now.
Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.