To repeat a point, most Americans don't really understand the deficit and its relationship to the broader economy. Insofar that the deficit is a concern, it's as a proxy issue; Americans worry about the deficit when the economy is poor, and aren't too concerned when the economy is doing well. For example, here are the results from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
In the poll, eight in 10 respondents say they are concerned about the growing federal deficit and the national debt, but more than 60 percent — including key swing-voter groups — are concerned that major cuts from Congress could impact their lives and their families.
Today's Christian Science Monitor has a really insightful piece that frames Scott Walker's work in Wisconsin as part of an attempt to model the state's economy along Southern lines. In the South, states tend to work with a combination of "weak unions, a business-friendly climate, a thin social safety net, and lower taxes." To wit, Walker's union-busting has been coupled with large tax cuts for wealthy interests and deep cuts in education and local aid. If the modern Republican Party is mostly a Southern creature, then Walker is something of a poster boy for its ongoing effort to export the South's "methods" to the rest of the country.
On Monday, President Barack Obama met with the nation's governors and announced his support for the first major amendment to the Affordable Care Act since the bill was signed last March. The proposal, crafted by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, would allow states to opt out of key planks of the health-care bill provided they met the administration's benchmarks.
Given the political heat Obama has taken from Republican governors over health-care reform, you could think that this proposal represents a small step toward capitulation. But that would be wrong. In truth, this measure is a major first step toward securing the Affordable Care Act's short-term viability.