Polls show Americans favor closing the deficit via tax hikes on the wealthy and eliminating subsidies for the oil & gas industry. While “cutting spending” polls well as an abstract concept, as soon as you poll cutting actual programs like Social Security, Medicaid & Medicare, and education, those cuts become wildly unpopular.
But reading the guest list from Sen. Mark Warner’s party this week, you have to wonder if Sen. Warner’s listening to a representative sample of Americans:
On Wednesday night under a tent at his mansion in northern Virginia, Mr. Warner brought together for a buffet dinner about 60 people, including roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans from the Senate and House, corporate executives and economic and financial leaders including Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, and David Stockman, the first budget director to President Ronald Reagan. […]
Among the participants were the chief executives of PepsiCo, Aetna and BlackRock; two members of the joint deficit committee, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, and five of the six members of the Gang of Six, including Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the conservative Republican whose wavering delayed the group’s agreement on a $4 trillion deficit-reduction package of spending cuts and revenue increases.
Along with Mr. Chambliss was Georgia’s other Republican senator, Johnny Isakson. Also there were Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House; Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Michael Bennet of Colorado, both Democrats; Frank Keating, the former Republican governor of Oklahoma who now heads the American Bankers Association; the former labor leader Andy Stern; Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office; John Rother, a former longtime legislative director at the A.A.R.P., and Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who co-chaired Mr. Obama’s debt-reduction commission last year.
Obviously we don’t know the whole guest list. But things like Sen. Warner’s preference for cutting programs for disabled seniors while preserving subsidies for Big Oil make more sense when you see who gets invited into his tent.