Poll Shows Americans Shifting on Deficit-Reduction Approach

United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll finds support for deficit package that’s two-thirds spending cuts and one-third tax hikes.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and demonstrators hold hands on Capitol Hill October 3, 2013 in Washington, DC, to protest cuts to Social Security.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
See more stories about...
Alex Roarty
Oct. 10, 2013, 5:15 p.m.

When it comes to de­fi­cit re­duc­tion, Amer­ic­ans in­creas­ingly fa­vor spend­ing cuts over tax in­creases. But their great­er open­ness car­ries a fa­mil­i­ar warn­ing: Re­duce spend­ing, but don’t touch our favored en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams.

Those find­ings from the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll in­dic­ate the pub­lic has cooled on fur­ther tax in­creases after this year’s fisc­al-cliff agree­ment to raise rates on in­di­vidu­als mak­ing $400,000 and fam­il­ies mak­ing $450,000. That’s pos­it­ive news for Re­pub­lic­ans, who sup­port de­fi­cit-re­duc­tion pack­ages that skew heav­ily to­ward spend­ing cuts.

A plur­al­ity of adults, 43 per­cent, sup­port a de­fi­cit-re­duc­tion pack­age that in­cludes two-thirds spend­ing cuts and one-third tax in­creases. Com­par­at­ively, only 12 per­cent said they pre­ferred a plan with the re­verse — two-thirds tax in­creases and one-third spend­ing cuts. Thirty-one per­cent said they want a debt plan to in­clude equal parts cuts and tax hikes,

That’s a 12-point swing from a poll taken last year. Then, a pro­pos­al to raise taxes and cut spend­ing had as much sup­port as one that em­phas­ized lower­ing spend­ing — both re­ceived 38 per­cent. A plan that favored tax in­creases drew 16 per­cent sup­port last year — 4 per­cent high­er than now.

A grow­ing re­luct­ance to raise taxes was also evid­ent with re­gard to spe­cif­ic tax de­duc­tions. In all four cat­egor­ies men­tioned to re­spond­ents — home mort­gages, state and loc­al taxes, char­it­able dona­tions, and em­ploy­ee health in­sur­ance ex­emp­tions — people were less in­clined to re­duce the de­duc­tions than last year. The shift was largest for the char­it­able de­duc­tion: 46 per­cent said law­makers should not re­duce the de­duc­tion at all, 9 points high­er than the 37 per­cent who said so last year.

The tax-re­lated poll res­ults aren’t all rosy for the GOP. Over­all, most people sup­por­ted ad­di­tion­al tax rev­en­ue through re­duced de­duc­tions: 30 per­cent of adults want the char­it­able de­duc­tion lowered for every­one, and 19 per­cent of them want it re­duced for those mak­ing more than $250,000. Com­bined, that’s still lar­ger than the share of adults who want to keep the tax ex­emp­tion as it is.

The res­ults on en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams present a fa­mil­i­ar di­lemma: The pub­lic wants to re­duce the debt, but the pro­grams that are the biggest drivers of the long-term de­fi­cit are also the ones they are least will­ing to cut. On So­cial Se­cur­ity, 76 per­cent of poll re­spond­ents say they don’t want spend­ing to be cut at all; just 21 per­cent say they want spend­ing on the pro­gram to be re­duced a lot or some. It’s a sim­il­ar story with Medi­care: 81 per­cent op­pose any cuts to it, while only 18 per­cent back re­duc­tions of any kind.

And when asked what they fear most about a de­fi­cit-re­duc­tion plan, a plur­al­ity of adults, 35 per­cent, said that it “would cut too much from gov­ern­ment pro­grams like Medi­care and So­cial Se­cur­ity.”

 

There is, however, one pro­gram the pub­lic is sud­denly in fa­vor of cut­ting: food stamps. More than half of adults, 56 per­cent, sup­port some or a lot of cuts to the pro­gram — 42 per­cent say they don’t want any cuts at all. That’s a sig­ni­fic­ant change since last Feb­ru­ary, when a Na­tion­al Journ­al poll found more people, 51 per­cent, said they didn’t want to touch the food-stamp pro­gram. Sup­port now is highest among whites, 61 per­cent of whom want to cut the pro­gram, in­clud­ing 20 per­cent who say they want deep cuts.

The sur­vey sug­gests that a House Re­pub­lic­an vote in Septem­ber to cut bil­lions in food-stamp fund­ing, ac­tion crit­ics re­garded at the time as polit­ic­ally harm­ful, won’t draw a back­lash from voters.

A chunk of adults ex­pressed con­cern that a de­fi­cit-re­duc­tion plan would either raise taxes too much or cut spend­ing too little. The poll found 25 per­cent of people said they fear it would “raise taxes on people like you.” Sev­en­teen per­cent said they wor­ried such a plan wouldn’t reach its tar­get for de­fi­cit re­duc­tion, while 14 per­cent are anxious it would “al­low for too much fed­er­al spend­ing in the next few years.”

The cur­rent in­stall­ment of the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll was con­duc­ted Oct. 3-6 by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al. The poll sur­veyed 1,000 adults, half via cell phone, and car­ries a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.7 per­cent­age points.

What We're Following See More »
UTAH REPUBLICAN
Former Sen. Bob Bennett Dies at 82
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Bennett was defeated in a primary in 2010 by Tea Party–backed Mike Lee.

Source:
CLINTON HERSELF COULD TESTIFY LATER
Judge Approves Deposition of Clinton Aides
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, approved a joint proposal presented by Judicial Watch and the State Department to take the depositions of officials" involved in the setup and use of Hillary Clinton's private email server, "including Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Clinton, and Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who serviced and maintained the server." He said Clinton could be deposed later on, though that may not be necessary.

Source:
‘WORLD CLASS’ ORGANIZATION
Trump Will Not Self Fund the General Election
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump will not self-finance his general election campaign as he did the primary season, instead relying on "his expansive personal Rolodex" to create what he called a “world-class finance organization." 

Source:
STATE HAS UNTIL MONDAY TO RESPOND
DOJ: North Carolina’s CB2 Violates Civil Rights Act
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Department of Justice officials told North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory that "the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX—a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. The department gave state officials until Monday to respond 'by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.'"

Source:
GOOGLE SEARCHES SPIKE
Libertarians Getting a Second Look?
18 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
×