When it comes to India, Washington Post reporter Rama Lakshmi seems to have no trouble recognizing that government benefits just might attract votes:
Trying to rekindle the fire of India’s economy, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram promised Thursday to rein in a runaway deficit even as he raised spending on welfare schemes that the government hopes will woo voters in elections scheduled for next year.…
“The finance minister faced two counter‐veiling pressures: to present a populist, voter‐friendly budget and also control the huge fiscal deficit,” said Vir Sanghvi, a political analyst. “What he presented was a ‘this‐is‐the‐best‐we‐can‐manage‐under‐the‐circumstances’ kind of a budget. . . . He is hoping that the economy will improve and prices will come down by the time of the election. That is a big political gamble.”
Chidambaram promised to increase spending on rural welfare schemes, rural roads and jobs, food guarantees for the poor, women’s safety programs, tax breaks on loans for first‐time home buyers and a women’s bank.
Is it really impossible to suspect that similar programs might have similar effects in the United States?