Dick Morris' latest column, “How to Shut Down The Government,” advises the GOP to insist on a narrow range of deep budget cuts (rather than more shallow cuts affecting a broader range of government programs) for optimum political gain. Morris recommends:
Republicans should zero fund new [highway] construction and say that America needs a three year moratorium on new highway construction. … For additional political advantage, Republicans should zero fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($500 million a year) and the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities ($500 million a year). … Who will care that these agencies are zero funded? The result will inevitably be a total victory for the Republican Party and for those who want to cut the budget. Then, Republicans should take the next step and roll back Medicaid funding to 2008 levels and block grant it to the states.
Wow: “Total victory for the Republican Party” is “inevitable” if they follow Morris' strategy? That's a bold prediction coming from someone who insisted the 2008 presidential campaign would pit Condi Rice against Hillary Clinton. How can Morris be so confident?
The answer lies in what he treats as a rhetorical question: “Who will care that these agencies are zero funded.” Dick Morris assumes that highway construction and public broadcasting and Medicaid lack strong public support. But had he bothered to glance at recent public polling, he'd have learned otherwise.
A January 21-23 CNN poll found 70 percent of Americans think it's more important to prevent Medicaid from being significantly cut than to reduce the deficit. That's just 8 percentage points less than the percent say the same about Social Security. But because Morris hasn't bothered to do his research, he writes that Republicans should cut Medicaid and must avoid being seen as trying to cut Social Security. The same poll found that 61 percent of Americans want to prevent significant cuts to “Programs to build and maintain roads, bridges and mass transit.” And a bipartisan poll conducted for PBS in February found that 69 percent of Americans oppose cuts to public broadcasting -- including 56 percent of Republicans.
So, Dick Morris' foolproof plan for inevitable total victory relies upon making massively unpopular cuts to Medicaid, public broadcasting, and highway construction. Genius!