Public Opinion about Tax Expenditures vs. Government “Grants”

by John Sides on November 9, 2011 · 2 comments

in Political Economy,Public opinion

{ 2 comments }

Brock November 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Great post. It just goes to show how the delivery of ideas is just as, if not more, important than the idea itself. Brings the expression “lipstick on a pig” back to mind.

Suzanne Mettler November 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

Thanks to Jake and Brandon for describing their fascinating and important new research. In the early and mid-20th century, it was Republicans and conservative southern Democrats who promoted the development of these submerged policies, but as Chris Howard shows, in recent decades more mainstream Democrats have embraced them as well. This occurs for a variety of reasons, but not least because they evidently poll well–and this study appears to illuminate the underpinnings of their public support.

I disagree, however, with Kevin Drum’s take-away point, as articulated on the Mother Jones blog, that this shows “How to Fool Conservatives Into Spending Money.” Liberals may gain in the very short run from creating tax breaks that channel resources to low and moderate-income Americans, but they lose –big–in the long run. Decades of expensive submerged policies–policies that don’t “look like government”– lead to the paradoxical combination of anti-government attitudes, large deficits, and pressing social problems that we are ill-poised to address.

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