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Monday, September 19, 2011


Our chapter on federalism notes that Americans have long tended to think that they get less for their tax money from the federal government than from the states and localities. In this light, Gallup reports:
Americans estimate that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every dollar it spends, a new high in a Gallup trend question first asked in 1979.

The current estimate of 51 cents wasted on the dollar is similar to what Gallup measured in 2009, but marks the first time Americans believe more than half of federal spending is wasted. The low point in the trend is 38 cents wasted on the dollar, in 1986.

Americans are less likely to believe state and local governments waste money they spend than they are to believe this about the federal government, with the state estimate at 42 cents on the dollar and the local at 38 cents.

Americans have viewed the federal government as being the most wasteful of tax dollars -- and local government the least -- each time Gallup has asked these questions. That pattern is consistent with Americans' greater trust in state and local government than in the federal government.