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Op-Ed: Americans Aren’t as Selfish as Obama Says

Friday, 18 Jan 2013 | 2:26 PM ET
President Barack Obama
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President Barack Obama

All of us at CNBC's "Kudlow Report" are still excited by the new poll in The Hill, which shows the number one issue for the largest number of voters polled is cutting spending and dealing with the debt.

Ah, but whenever any poll or reporter talks about how the people want spending cuts, the elites and snarky types all sing something like the following line in chorus:

"Everybody wants spending cuts until it's time to cut their pet program! So there!"

Even President Obama echoed that sentiment earlier this week when he said:

"Some of the same folks who say we've got to cut spending or complain that government jobs don't do anything, when it comes to that defense contractor in their district, they think, 'Wow, this is a pretty important part of the economy in my district and we shouldn't stop spending on that. Let's just make sure we're not spending on those other folks.'" (Read More: Did Obama Just Take Default Off the Table?)

That "no cuts in my backyard" type of assessment is just the way a lot of people in Washington, the media, and academia see the American people.

President Obama Addresses Debt Ceiling
"I intend to carry out the agenda that I campaigned on; an agenda for new jobs, new opportunity, and new security for the middle class," said President Obama discussing the nation's debt and tax issues at a press conference from the White House. We can't finish deficit reduction through spending cuts alone, the President said.

As cynical as that sounds, it at least seems wise.

It's also completely NOT true.

Researchers and pollsters who have spent decades talking to real voters, and not lobbyists, all agree: while no one wants their programs to be cut, the overwhelming majority of Americans do support cutting everything — including their favorite projects if the savings are used to reduce the debt.

The growing majority of Americans also recognize that government spending hurts, instead of helps the economy. Again, that's in stark contrast to what President Obama believes based on his comments during Monday's news conference when he repeatedly said that many types of government spending help the economy grow.

In other words, everyone from President Obama to many of the media elites have been underestimating the American people for years. And it's understandable. I mean if you spent all day talking only to lobbyists and pundits who appear on TV, you would probably have a pretty low opinion of America's tolerance for compromise and sacrifice too.(Read More: Obama Gun Control Plan Faces Tough Road in Congress)

One pollster with the statistics to destroy this myth is Scott Rasmussen.

In his book, The People's Money, Rasmussen shows that government spending has gone up every single year since 1954 despite persistent voter demand for spending cuts. And while politicians blame voters for the problem and claim that there is no public support for specific spending cuts — Rasmussen has the data that shows that claim to be a lie.

And that's not all… The polls show that more voters get that government spending isn't solving our economic problem, government spending is our economic problem.

There's a lot of talk about how politicians in Washington are out of touch with the real people in this country. And you'd be hard-pressed to find an issue that proves that disconnect more than government spending.

Where Washington and Wall Street collide: Tune in to "The Kudlow Report" at 7pm ET weekdays. Follow "The Kudlow Report on Twitter at @thekudlowreport.

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"