How does the submerged state impact public support for government intervention?

The submerged state makes public support for government intervention difficult for politicians to garner, because policy changes made within the submerged state are invisible to most citizens.

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The submerged state is the array of hidden policies instituted by the American government, largely in the form of subsidies to specific interests or payments to private entities. It affects the ability of politicians to make change in areas related to those submerged policies, because they are hard to understand...

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The submerged state is the array of hidden policies instituted by the American government, largely in the form of subsidies to specific interests or payments to private entities. It affects the ability of politicians to make change in areas related to those submerged policies, because they are hard to understand for ordinary people not well-versed in the technical operations of the federal government. As a result, real reform look like inaction.

In her book The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy, political scientist Suzanne Mettler describes how when the Obama Administration attempted to improve the quality of health care and tackle the complexities of the looming Great Recession, polls revealed that citizens were dissatisfied with the results. Even in the case of tax relief in his stimulus package, many citizens thought the opposite result had taken place.

Without a clear and visible policy target, politicians are often reluctant to change things, knowing that adjustments to the submerged state will often be invisible or counterintuitive to their constituents. How the submerged state itself has been used in politics is a good example of the confounding consequences of the state of affairs. For instance, a conservative movement has arisen that brands itself as a "less government" party but is increasing government payouts through the submerged state even as it attacks more visible entitlement programs. Because the submerged state is nearly invisible to ordinary people, it can be used to benefit political allies. Because what happens at the level of the submerged state doesn't make sense to a lot of citizens, it can also be a difficult place within which to try to make reform.

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