INN Blog

More Posts
 

Cutting Government Spending May Be Popular But Majorities of the Public Oppose Cuts in Many Big Ticket Items in the Budget

NEW YORK, March 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- While many polls have shown that large numbers of people want to reduce "government spending" and reduce the budget deficit, a new Harris Poll finds that only rather small minorities of the public want to cut most of the biggest federal government programs. Only 12% of the public want to see a cut in Social Security payments, 21% want to cut federal aid to education and 22% want to cut federal health care programs. The only programs of the 20 listed in the poll that majorities of Americans want to cut are foreign economic aid (79%), foreign military aid (74%), subsidies to business (57%), spending by regulatory agencies (56%), the space program (52%) and federal welfare spending (52%).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO)

The poll also finds that Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to want to cut many government programs and that Tea Party supporters are particularly supportive of cutting specific programs

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,056 adults surveyed online between February 6 and 13, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

In addition to the services which majorities of the pubic do not want to cut, pluralities (but not majorities) oppose cutting federal housing programs (by 50% to 40%), scientific research (by 50% to 40%), defense (by 49% to 42%), farm subsidies (by 46% to 42%), and food stamps (by 49% to 43%).

Trends over time

The Harris Poll first asked these questions thirty-two years ago, in 1980, towards the end of Jimmy Carter's presidency. At that time substantially more people wanted to cut all these areas of government spending than do so today. For example 23% wanted to cut Social Security payments (compared to 12% now), 65% wanted to cut spending on food stamps (compared to 43% now), and 59% wanted to cut Federal highway financing (compared to 25% now). In spite of the current concern about the size of the budget deficit, far fewer people today want to cut specific government programs.



Advertisement

The Different Opinions of Tea Party Supporters and Partisans of the Two Parties

Unsurprisingly Democrats and Republicans have somewhat different opinions on these issues. Far more Republicans than Democrats want to cut some, but not all, of these programs. For example, Republicans are much more likely to favor cutting federal welfare spending (72% compared to 36%), food stamps (61% vs. 28%), pollution control (59% vs. 21%), federal job training programs (47% vs. 18%), health care (37% vs. 10%) and federal aid to education (35% vs. 9%). On the other hand Democrats are much more in favor of cutting defense spending than are Republicans (54% vs. 27%).

Tea Party supporters are even more likely to favor cutting government programs including food stamps (66%), federal housing programs (65%), spending for mass transit (56%), health care (44%) and aid to education (41%).

So What?

These polling data point to the different language and messages that are, and will be, used by Republicans and Democrats in this election year. Republicans will talk about cutting spending and reducing the budget deficit, with references to foreign aid, welfare and food stamps, while Democrats will accuse the Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security, Medicare, and education. Who will get the better of this debate remains to be seen.

TABLE 1
CUTTING GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS
"Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?"

Base: All Adults

FAVOR

Advertisement

CUT

(NET)

Major

cut

Minor

cut

OPPOSE

CUT

(NET)

No cut in

Spending

Increase in spending

Not at

Advertisement

all

sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

79

53

26

12

10

2

9

Foreign military aid

74

46

27

17

14

4

9

Subsidies to business

57

27

29

31

24

7

12

Spending by the regulatory agencies generally

56

26

31

28

23

5

16

Space programs

52

23

29

39

26

13

9

Federal welfare spending

52

26

25

39

32

7

9

The food stamp program

43

19

24

49

36

13

8

Farm subsidies

42

20

22

46

35

11

12

Defense spending

42

16

26

49

35

14

9

Federally funded scientific research programs

40

14

27

50

33

17

10

Federal housing programs

40

16

24

50

35

15

10

Pollution control

37

14

23

53

36

17

10

Spending for mass transportation

35

12

23

54

32

22

10

Federal aid to cities

33

10

22

57

43

14

10

Federal job training programs

32

11

21

58

34

23

11

Revenue sharing with states and cities

26

9

17

58

46

12

16

Federal highway financing

25

6

20

65

42

23

10

Health care

22

8

13

70

34

36

8

Federal aid to education

21

9

12

70

34

36

9

Social security payments

12

4

8

80

50

31

8

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

TABLE 2
CUTTING GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS BY POLITICAL PARTY
"Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?"
Summary of those saying "Favor major cut" or "Favor minor cut"

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Tea Party
Supporters

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

79

85

72

85

89

Foreign military aid

74

73

71

79

77

Subsidies to business

57

66

54

55

67

Spending by the regulatory agencies generally

56

70

44

60

76

Space programs

52

52

56

52

51

Federal welfare spending

52

72

36

54

74

The food stamp program

43

61

28

46

66

Farm subsidies

42

43

41

49

52

Defense spending

42

27

54

44

31

Federally funded scientific research programs

40

54

29

43

58

Federal housing programs

40

59

25

42

65

Pollution control

37

59

21

39

61

Spending for mass transportation

35

48

23

39

56

Federal aid to cities

33

48

20

37

54

Federal job training programs

32

47

18

33

53

Revenue sharing with states and cities

26

34

19

27

40

Federal highway financing

25

32

22

26

37

Health care

22

37

10

22

44

Federal aid to education

21

35

9

24

41

Social security payments

12

13

9

14

19

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 3
CUTTING SPECIFIC GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS – TREND
"Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?"
Summary of those saying "favor a major cut" or "favor a minor cut"

Base: All Adults

 

Favor Cut (NET)

Change
1980-
2012

1980

2008

2011

2012

%

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

82

74

75

79

-3

Foreign military aid

77

69

69

74

-3

Subsidies to business

69

62

51

57

-12

Spending by the regulatory agencies generally

72

53

56

56

-16

Space programs

66

49

54

52

-14

Federal welfare spending

69

52

51

52

-17

The food stamp program

65

43

40

43

-22

Farm subsidies

53

44

42

42

-11

Defense spending

34

35

41

42

+8

Federally funded scientific research programs

51

35

42

40

-11

Federal housing programs

54

39

41

40

-14

Pollution control

49

22

37

37

-12

Spending for mass transportation

42

28

35

35

-7

Federal aid to cities

58

33

34

33

-25

Federal job training programs

NA

NA

NA

32

NA

Revenue sharing with states and cities

53

30

28

26

-27

Federal highway financing

59

24

31

25

-34

Health care

37

12

24

22

-15

Federal aid to education

37

17

21

21

-16

Social security payments

23

8

11

12

-11

Note: Please note that in 1980, this survey was conducted by telephone

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United Statesbetween February 6 and 13, 2012 among 2,056 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41216
Q805

 

The Harris Poll®#24, March 1, 2012
By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

 

Press Contact:

Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com

 

 

SOURCE Harris Interactive

Source:  PR Newswire Association LLC
Wordcount:  1745



USER COMMENTS:


  More Financial

More Financial >>
  Most Popular Financial

More Popular Financial >>
Hot Off the Wires  Hot off the Wires

More Hot News >>

insider icon Denotes premium content. Learn more about becoming an Insider here.