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Are Republicans miscalculating on austerity?

After House Republicans slashed billions in the legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the year, and with the budget standoff in Wisconsin entering another today, the question has become: Are Republicans miscalculating on austerity?

As the New York Times writes:

[I]n the view of officials from both major political parties, Republicans may be risking the same kind of electoral backlash Democrats suffered after they were perceived as overreaching.

Public surveys suggest that most voters do not share the Republicans’ fervor for the deep cuts adopted by the House, or for drastically slashing the power of public-sector unions. And independent voters have historically been averse to displays of political partisanship that have been played out over the last week.

“If Republicans push too far and overreach their mandate, they will be punished by independent voters, just as they were in 1996,” said Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush. “Voters said they wanted bold action. They are getting bold action. But Republicans need to be constantly reminded that the last election was a referendum for change, not a referendum for the G.O.P.”

Indeed, our NBC/WSJ poll from last month found that 49% of respondents said unemployment was their top economic concern, versus 17% who cited the federal budget deficit.

Yet Politico wonders if organized labor is miscalculating in Wisconsin.

Some strategists and labor officials watching the protest conflagration from the outside are beginning to fret that a large-scale defeat in Wisconsin will have a devastating ripple effect, weakening labor state by state throughout the rest of the country.

“Some of the labor people are saying ‘It’s the beginning of the fight back,’ ” a top labor official said of Wisconsin. “But if the labor movement rallies and gets run over in Wisconsin, it opens (the gates) in every state” for governors to start pushing harder to curtail labor rights.