California, Bellwether for the Nation

| Thu Nov. 18, 2010 11:47 AM EST

This comes from the LA Times, but I think it could be the lead story in pretty much any newspaper in the country:

Californians object to increasing taxes in order to pare the state's massive budget deficit, and instead favor closing the breach through spending cuts. But they oppose cuts — and even prefer more spending — on programs that make up 85% of the state's general fund obligations, a new Los Angeles Times/USC Poll has found.

That paradox rests on Californians' firm belief that the state's deficit — estimated last week at nearly $25 billion over the next 18 months — can be squared through trimming waste and inefficiencies rather than cutting the programs they hold dear. Despite tens of billions that have been cut from the state budget in recent years, just a quarter of California voters believed that state services would have to be curtailed to close the deficit.

Well, there you have it. This is America in a nutshell.

Of course, one might well wonder just why voters are so convinced that nearly a quarter of the state budget is waste and inefficiency. Certainly some of the budget falls into that category, but a quarter? Where could voters have gotten that idea? Any guesses?