How to make Spending in the U.S. unpopular

Government checks can’t make up for the rising cost of living.

By authors from the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal.

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The Biden Democrats may be achieving the impossible, which is making government spending unpopular. In March they passed $1.9 trillion in goodies, including USD 300 in monthly child allowances. This and other free lunches were supposed to be the ticket to keeping their majorities in Congress.

Then how to explain their collapse in the polls, which reached new lows in the latest ABC-Washington Post survey taken shortly after the USD 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed? President Biden’s job approval has sunk to 41 %, and a Carteresque 39 % on the economy—despite strong economic growth. Republicans have a 51 % to 41 % lead in which party-registered voters would prefer to control Congress.

What gives? Our guess is that Democrats underestimated that voters take account of costs as well as benefits. They’ll cash the government checks. But they don’t feel better off because they know they’re paying more at the grocery store, at the gas pump, or to replace that old dishwasher—if they can even find a dishwasher to buy. Voters instinctively understand the link between runaway spending, easy monetary policy and inflation.

The White House is nonetheless pressing ahead to pass another USD 1.75 trillion bill, which is really a USD 4 trillion bill, claiming it will finally solve the party’s political woes. Democrats are even pitching more spending as the solution to higher inflation—because, they say, more welfare and entitlement payments will cause more people to work, which will reduce the economy’s supply problems. No wonder half of all voters blame Biden policies for inflation.