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June 19th, 2009

While the Republicans may have done a lousy job of convincing the American people that Obama is to blame for the deficit, their long-term efforts to blame Democrats in general seem to have been successful. Witness the results of an NBC/WSJ poll (PDF):

Which ONE of the following groups do you feel is most responsible for the federal budget deficit?

Obama: 6%
Bush: 46%
Republicans in Congress: 7%
Democrats in Congress: 21%
Everybody: 13%

It’s fairly encouraging that only 6% truly believed that Obama could cause “most” of the damage seen in the federal deficit in just a few months in office than Bush could in eight full years; one can discount the 6% as the lunatic conservative fringe. “Everybody” is not a bad answer, either.

But look at the congressional numbers: Republicans 7%, Democrats 21%? When the Democrats have been in charge of the House for just over two years, barely in charge in the Senate for most of that time, the Republicans filibustering everything in sight, and Bush dominating things until just recently? That wins them 21%, while Republicans in Congress–who are in fact just as responsible as Bush, oversaw the majority of the deficit-building, and were guilty of extravagant pork and deregulation, only got 7%?

That has to be a result of either (a) Democratic respondents blaming Bush while Republican respondents blame Democrats, or (b) the successful job conservatives have done of making people believe the fiction that Democrats are to blame for spending no matter what, and that Republicans are fiscally responsible. It’s a given that Democrats in Congress have not distinguished themselves as fantastic budget-cutters, but to assign three times more responsibility for the current deficit to them than to Republicans in Congress is rather ludicrous.

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