Bill Clinton once famously pronounced, "The era of big government is over."
Boy, was he wrong!
The thing is, he was saying what he thought Americans wanted to hear. What they want to hear may have changed: A new Washington Post -ABC News poll shows the only deficit-cutting idea that most Americans agree on is taxing the "rich."
Respondents opposed cutting Medicare 78 to 21 percent, and every other entitlement spending cut -- despite the fact that the cuts wouldn't affect current retirees, and despite the fact that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending is about to eat us alive.
Lay off our entitlements, Bub, is the unofficial position of Americans. To heck with future generations.
If Republicans such as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan are banking on reasoning with Americans about what cuts are needed in advance of the 2012 election, they may be signing a suicide pact. Despite all the dire budget warnings now being discussed every day in Washington and in the media, Americans are nowhere near ready to do what's necessary to save the country financially, this poll says.
Meanwhile, the Democrats' soak-the-rich campaign is working -- even though taking money out of the private economy would be a horrible idea at a time when small businesses and others are trying to get their enterprises and the larger economy growing again.
Moreover, the numbers make it clear that America has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. As for taxing the rich, The Washington Post says "a 45 percent (tax) rate on incomes of more than $1 million would generate $31 billion, while an even more progressive tax, with rates of 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent on incomes of $500,000, $5 million (and) $10 million respectively would generate an added $133 billion."
All that, the Post notes, would add up to about 10 percent of the current year's $1.65 trillion deficit.
In other words, taxing the rich at exorbitant rates would pay for a measly 10 percent of one year's overspending in Washington.
Not to mention the chilling effect it would have in the private sector.
The era of big government is just getting started.
And Americans seem fine with that.