Recent Polls on Taxes and Spending
By BRUCE BARTLETT,
Posted: April 15, 2011
An April 6 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 61 percent of people favor a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, down from 71 percent in 1995. Support falls to 27 percent when people are told that this would require a 20 percent cut in entitlement programs.
An April 4 YouGov poll found that an overwhelming majority of people favor large budget cuts. However, majorities also favor increased spending for education and medical research, and a strong plurality favor increased spending on clean energy technology.
An April 1 CNN/Opinion Research poll examined peoples’ knowledge of how the federal government spends its money. It finds that most really have no idea what percentage of the budget goes to various programs.
A March 31 Pew poll asked people which among these programs the federal government spent the most on: Medicare, education, scientific research, or interest on the debt. Only 29 percent of people correctly said Medicare, 7 percent said education, 7 percent said scientific research, and 36 percent said interest.
A March 16 Pew poll found sharply declining support for Republicans on budget issues. It also found strong opposition to cutting Social Security and Medicare, which Republicans have promised to do.
A March 15 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that only 31 percent of voters support the Republican policy of only cutting spending to reduce the deficit; 64 percent believe higher taxes will also be necessary.
A March 9 Bloomberg poll found significant opposition to many budget cuts proposed by Republicans.
Also on March 9, the Harris poll found strong opposition to cutting Social Security or Medicare benefits to deal with the budgetary problems of those programs. People are also opposed to raising taxes to fund them.
And a March 9 Ipsos/Reuters poll also found strong opposition to cutting Social Security or Medicare to balance the budget.
A March 7 Harris poll found strong majority support for every government program that people were asked about with the sole exception of foreign aid.
A March 2 YouGov poll found that people want government spending cut, but only on programs that don’t affect them.
Also on March 2, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found strong opposition to cutting spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, K-12 education, heating assistance for the poor, college student loans, Head Start, and unemployment insurance. There was majority support only for cutting nuclear power subsidies, aid to state and local governments, the EPA budget, and spending on transportation and infrastructure projects. The poll also found that 81 percent of people would support a surtax on millionaires to help reduce the budget deficit, and 68 percent would support eliminating the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000.
On March 1, the Tarrance Group issued a poll which found that 63 percent of voters incorrectly believe that the federal government spends more on national defense and foreign aid than it does on Medicare and Social Security. Also, three-fifths of voters believe that the budget can be fixed just by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.
A February 16 Harris poll found that support for cutting spending is largely confined to small programs such as foreign aid, and that people favor increasing spending for big programs such as Social Security. The poll also shows that there is considerably less support for budget cuts today than there was in 1980.
A February 15 CBS News poll found that only 49 percent of people believe that reducing the deficit will require cuts in programs that benefit them; 41 percent do not. Also, only 37 percent of people believe that reducing the deficit will require higher taxes on them; 59 percent do not.
Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).