A Pew Research Center poll published on February 21, 2013 shows that Americans oppose virtually all spending cuts. The poll asked if those polled would increase, remain the same or increase spending in a number of categories. I will show just the decrease spending percentages: 1) Aid to world’s needy – 48%; 2) State Department – 34%; 3) Unemployment aid – 32%; 4) Military Defense – 24%; 5) Aid to needy in U.S. – 24%; 6) Health care – 22%’ 7) Environmental protection – 22%; 8) Energy – 21%; 9) Scientific research – 20%; 10) Agriculture – 20%; 11) Anti-terrorism defenses – 19%; 12) Roads and infrastructure – 17%; 13) Medicare – 15%; 14) Combating crime – 14%; 15) Food and drug inspection – 14%; 16) Natural disaster relief – 12%; 17) Education – 10%; 18) Social Security – 10%; 19) Veterans’ benefits – 6%.
The only item a plurality of Americans support decreasing spending is aid to the world’s needy. Even in that case, the total respondents who believe that the aid budget should be increased or kept the same outnumber those who believe it should be reduced.
Republicans support increasing Social Security spending by a 35 to 17 percent margin and the similar margin on Medicare is 24 to 21 percent. 44 percent of Republicans want health care spending slashed, while 16 percent want it increased.
Although Americans agree with the theoretical idea of cutting the budget, targeting specific programs is usually political malfeasance.
A Hill (D.C.) newspaper poll that was published on the same day as the Pew poll, found that 49 percent support cutting military spending, while only 23 percent support cuts to Social Security and Medicare. By a margin of 58 percent to 28 percent, respondents said cutting the nation’s debt is more vital than keeping domestic and military programs at their current levels. 69 percent said they would oppose cuts to the social programs.
When I was in Rep. Henry Hyde’s (R-IL) district, he sent out a survey which was the most detailed on spending for specific governmental programs I’ve ever seen. The poll was structured on the same basis as the Pew poll. When Hyde sent out the rssults of the poll, he described them as proof that his constituents wanted spending cut and didn’t want any new taxes; however, when I made a detailed study of the results, I found that majorities wanted spending increases in 13 programs. Moreover, majorities wanted new taxes on businessmen’s lunches and on pollutors.
What the results above show is that Americans support spending cuts when questions are asked in a general way, or types of spending are compared to one another; however, when the poll is structured in an increase, keep the same or decrease spending mode, the results tend to be quite different. Americans don’t seem to have anywhere near the fervour for cutting governmental spending as the GOP, generally, claims they do.
Finally, polls of U.S. citizens on what to about decision-making should be seen as a very unreliable guide for lawmakers to follow, as mass confusion seems to be the prevailing condition of the U.S. public.