Consider Gallup polling from March 1938. Asked whether government spending should be increased to fight the slump, 63 percent of those polled said no. Asked whether it would be better to increase spending or to cut business taxes, only 15 percent favored spending; 63 percent favored tax cuts. And the 1938 election was a disaster for the Democrats, who lost 70 seats in the House and seven in the Senate.
Today, almost the exact opposite is true. More Americans support spending over deficit-reduction, yet there’s very little political will for more spending. Of course polls quickly became irrelevant by 1941 when we began to rack up huge deficits to pay for the war, and the Great Depression ended.
Strange, but not surprising, how war — World War II then, Iraq and Afghanistan now — makes huge deficit spending okay, but fixing the economy and creating jobs with deficit spending is all kinds of controversial. Some things never change.