Ronald Reagan and the midterms

Labor Day, the sunset of summer, marks a turning point in the American mindset.  Kids go back to school, parents return to work, and Americans turn their attention (reluctantly) to politics.  This fall, Americans will vote in the first midterm election under President Donald Trump, with the balance of power in both houses of Congress at stake.

So, as sweatshirt weather returns and political campaign propaganda spreads faster than the common cold, what is the state of the American political mindset?  Fortunately, Gallup pollsters keep track of this by asking Americans each month, "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?"

In August, 21 percent of Americans cited "Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership" as the most pressing problem.  Close behind, 17 percent stated "Economic Problems."

The good news is that the midterm election will be a wonderful opportunity for Americans to address these problems head on.  However, they must choose between two radically different sets of policy solutions.  Where do candidates stand on the top two problems Americans believe that the country is facing?

"Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership" is broad, but at its core, it reveals that Americans remain cynical of the government's ability to solve problems.  Trump remains committed to "draining the swamp," and he has endorsed Republican candidates who are on board with his agenda to reduce the size and scope of government.

On the other hand, congressional Democrats are running on a platform to increase government more than your waistline after Thanksgiving.  Several left-wing candidates are pushing for universal health care, free college, and a massive government jobs program.

This fall, Americans who rank "Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership" as the most pressing problem ought to ponder one simple question: which party would increase the size and scope of government more?

President Ronald Reagan once said, "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."  If you are one of the many Americans who distrust politicians and have reservations about increasing government power, keep Reagan's wise words in mind before you decide whether or not to give the government even more power.

Aside from Americans' disgust with government and politicians, many Americans are concerned about the economy.  In less than two years, Trump and congressional Republicans have made great strides to increase American prosperity, although there is still room for improvement.  Tax cuts, a huge regulatory rollback, the unleashing of American energy production (including fossil fuels), and several other pro-growth policies have had a profoundly positive effect.  From record-low unemployment to sustained GDP growth not experienced in decades, Americans are better off than they've been in years.

But despite the unequivocal economic progress that has occurred over the past two years, congressional Democrats are espousing policies that would shrink Americans' paychecks.  If elected, Democratic candidates plan to raise taxes; increase regulations; and impose a $15 minimum wage on businesses, many of which are just starting to fully recover from the 2008 economic crash.

As a plethora of pesky political ads dominates the airwaves this fall, Americans will be inundated with a wide range of policy solutions.  Some candidates will insist that the only way to solve the nation's problems is by increasing the power of government.  However, other candidates will emphasize that the government has a tendency to perpetuate problems, not solve them.  Thus, they will campaign to decrease the power of government.

According to Reagan, "you can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy."

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.

Labor Day, the sunset of summer, marks a turning point in the American mindset.  Kids go back to school, parents return to work, and Americans turn their attention (reluctantly) to politics.  This fall, Americans will vote in the first midterm election under President Donald Trump, with the balance of power in both houses of Congress at stake.

So, as sweatshirt weather returns and political campaign propaganda spreads faster than the common cold, what is the state of the American political mindset?  Fortunately, Gallup pollsters keep track of this by asking Americans each month, "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?"

In August, 21 percent of Americans cited "Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership" as the most pressing problem.  Close behind, 17 percent stated "Economic Problems."

The good news is that the midterm election will be a wonderful opportunity for Americans to address these problems head on.  However, they must choose between two radically different sets of policy solutions.  Where do candidates stand on the top two problems Americans believe that the country is facing?

"Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership" is broad, but at its core, it reveals that Americans remain cynical of the government's ability to solve problems.  Trump remains committed to "draining the swamp," and he has endorsed Republican candidates who are on board with his agenda to reduce the size and scope of government.

On the other hand, congressional Democrats are running on a platform to increase government more than your waistline after Thanksgiving.  Several left-wing candidates are pushing for universal health care, free college, and a massive government jobs program.

This fall, Americans who rank "Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership" as the most pressing problem ought to ponder one simple question: which party would increase the size and scope of government more?

President Ronald Reagan once said, "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."  If you are one of the many Americans who distrust politicians and have reservations about increasing government power, keep Reagan's wise words in mind before you decide whether or not to give the government even more power.

Aside from Americans' disgust with government and politicians, many Americans are concerned about the economy.  In less than two years, Trump and congressional Republicans have made great strides to increase American prosperity, although there is still room for improvement.  Tax cuts, a huge regulatory rollback, the unleashing of American energy production (including fossil fuels), and several other pro-growth policies have had a profoundly positive effect.  From record-low unemployment to sustained GDP growth not experienced in decades, Americans are better off than they've been in years.

But despite the unequivocal economic progress that has occurred over the past two years, congressional Democrats are espousing policies that would shrink Americans' paychecks.  If elected, Democratic candidates plan to raise taxes; increase regulations; and impose a $15 minimum wage on businesses, many of which are just starting to fully recover from the 2008 economic crash.

As a plethora of pesky political ads dominates the airwaves this fall, Americans will be inundated with a wide range of policy solutions.  Some candidates will insist that the only way to solve the nation's problems is by increasing the power of government.  However, other candidates will emphasize that the government has a tendency to perpetuate problems, not solve them.  Thus, they will campaign to decrease the power of government.

According to Reagan, "you can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy."

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.