Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics by Joe Biden:
I started hearing it in very blunt terms in my 1978 race in Delaware. My opponent started using the example of Morris, the finicky cat who wouldn’t eat cat food. He said, “I know how to get Morris the cat to eat cat food. Starve him. Starve him. Take away his food and he’ll eat whatever you give him. And that’s what we have to do to government.” Cut revenue, cut taxes and starve the government programs out of existence: That was the new plan. And then they started attacking social welfare in the most disingenuous way. They didn’t take on the welfare programs directly; they didn’t talk about eliminating welfare. They just kept up a steady drumbeat about welfare cheats and how the federal government was wasting the money taken from hardworking taxpayers.
I’ll give the Republicans this much: It was a mercenary message, but it resonated. And they had taken the easy way out. It required a lot less energy, intelligence, and competence to run against government than to try to make government work. But there was also a blowback effect in Congress: Respect for the institution and civility among its members began to ebb.