Here’s what voters are really frustrated about Live

Exit polls show one thing we already know: Voters are disgusted with Washington and think the federal government is a national embarrassment. In Associated Press surveys, for instance, only 20 percent of voters say they trust the government to do the right thing most or all of the time.

It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the federal government is relatively cheap these days. The federal tax burden for every income group has drifted down during the last decade, and tax rates for just about everybody are lower than they were in 1980, as this chart from the Congressional Budget Office shows:

At the same time, the government does a lot more these days — it pays out more in entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, and of course there’s Obamacare, the new health-insurance program. The only reason we can afford all those benefits is an unsustainable level of borrowing.

Still, Americans today don’t bear the total cost of what Washington spends, and for the most part voters don’t really complain about the cost of government.
What they complain about is the quality of the product they’re getting. If the federal government were like any other consumer product, we’d ask for a refund. We just don’t feel we’re getting a good deal. That’s the message emerging from the 2014 midterms, just as it's emerged from many other elections during the last 15 or 20 years. Elections don't seem to change that, no matter how much voters want change.


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