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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Opinion on Federal Spending

Pew reports that Americans are not eager for budget cuts in specific areas:

As the March 1 deadline for a possible budget sequester approaches, a new national survey finds limited public support for reducing spending for a range of specific programs, including defense, entitlements, education and health care.
For 18 of 19 programs tested, majorities want either to increase spending or maintain it at current levels. The only exception is assistance for needy people around the world. Nonetheless, as many say that funding for aid to the needy overseas should either be increased (21%), or kept the same (28%), as decreased (48%).

Using a different kind of question, Gallup reaches slightly different findings on defense:
As steep cuts in defense spending are scheduled to take place on March 1 unless the federal government acts to prevent them, Americans show no clear consensus on current U.S. defense spending. Thirty-six percent say the U.S. spends the right amount on the military and national defense, 35% say it spends too much, and 26% too little. In the prior two years, the plurality of Americans said too much was spent on defense.
Previous posts have shown that Americans have only a shaky grasp of basic fiscal dataAt Bloomberg, Julie Davis reports that misinformation remains widespread:
At the same time, the size and trajectory of the U.S. deficit is poorly understood by most Americans, with 62 percent saying it’s getting bigger, 28 percent saying it’s staying about the same this year, and just 6 percent saying it’s shrinking. The Congressional Budget Officereported Feb. 6 that the federal budget deficit is getting smaller, falling to $845 billion this year -- the first time in five years that the gap between taxes and spending will be less than $1 trillion.
Americans also have a skewed picture of what drives federal spending.
At least half correctly pegged defense programs, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid -- both of which comprise about one fifth of the federal budget -- as accounting for at least 20 percent of federal spending. Yet almost a third of respondents say the same about education -- which actually comprises 2 percent of the budget -- and foreign aid -- which registers at just 1 percent of federal spending. Almost 40 percent of respondents say the social safety net, including food stamps and jobless benefits, make up at least a fifth of the federal budget; in fact, such programs amount to about 13 percent of total spending.
The full results of the Bloomberg poll are here.