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 »
As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."
"Supporters of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on Saturday withdrew a last-ditch lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court aimed at forcing a statewide ballot recount, another major setback in the effort to verify the votes in three states that provided President-elect Donald Trump his margin of victory. Ms. Stein’s campaign announced in a statement Saturday that the Pennsylvania lawsuit had been dropped after the court demanded that a $1 million bond be posted by the 100 Pennsylvania residents who brought the suit."
In a series of early-morning tweets on Sunday, Donald Trump threatened companies that attempt to relocate out of the country. "Any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!," he wrote. "There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies."
"The Army Corps of Engineers has decided to deny the easement for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the National Congress of American Indians said in a statement Sunday. The decision would essentially halt the construction of the oil pipeline right above the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and it also comes as demonstrators across the country flocked to North Dakota in protest."
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will submit his resignation today, after a referendum vote went against his side. The development represents yet another win for populism around the globe, as the populist 5 Stars Movement, Renzi's chief rivals, took 60 percent of the vote. Renzi claimed the reforms "were vital to modernize Italy."