Contra Mitt Romney, I think the real problem with the Democrats is that they’re not transactional enough with their politics.
It used to be that Democrats were the party of giving stuff to people and Republicans were the party of deficit scolds. Unsurprisingly, Democrats won more elections.
Eventually Republicans were able to turn the dynamic around by becoming the party of giving people tax cuts, and turning Democrats into the party of cleaning up Republicans’ huge deficits.
Think about how the Affordable Care Act debate went down and how much more time Obama and the Democrats spent talking about “bending the curve” on health spending versus how much time they spent talking about all the goodies people were going to get. It had to be like 4-1. If anything, Obama’s fault was not being blatant enough about telling people what goodies were coming.
That’s not to say people shouldn’t try to pay for the programs they want, but Democrats are taking it too far by letting the bummer deficit talk infect their rhetoric. Democratic politicians shouldn’t even talk about the deficit. Let the Republicans be the only party scolding people about the deficit, while Democrats go back to being the party of free presents. Nobody actually cares about the deficit, and the sooner Democrats learn that the better.