Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Public Opposes Cuts To Most Programs

All the talk now is about how the government needs to cut spending. Nobody seems to like the sequester, but both Congress and the public seems to have accepted that more cuts must be done. The problem is where those cuts are to be done. The Republicans don't want the military budget cut (even though we are spending more than what the next 15 countries combined spend). And the Democrats don't want to cut more from education, unemployment, or social programs (since most of those programs have been cut to the bone already).

This brings up the question of what does the general public want to cut? The Pew Research Center did a survey to find out (conducted between February 13th and 18th of a nationwide sample of 1,504 adults -- with a margin of error of 2.9 points). What they found was that significant majorities of the American people don't want cuts at all -- at least not when they are asked about specific programs.

Only one program came close to being agreed upon to cut -- aid to the world's needy (with 49% wanting to keep it funded at the current level or increasing funding, while 48% want its funding to be decreased). The problem here is that the funding for aid to the world's needy is such a small part of the national budget that it could be completely eliminated and it wouldn't significantly affect government spending.

As the chart above shows, no other program or area has more that 34% believing it should be cut. And most programs have far less support for cuts than that 34%. For example, 10% think Social Security should be cut (while 87% oppose cutting it), 10% would cut education (while 89% would oppose cutting it more), and 15% would cut Medicare (while 82% would oppose cutting it).

The fact is that the American people are opposed to all the cuts the Republicans want to make. Which means the GOP is once again playing with fire by trying to impose cuts the public won't support -- and refusing to close tax loopholes for the rich to raise more revenue, which would be supported by a majority of the public. The Republicans may have scared people into thinking cuts need to be made, but they are yet to find an area where the public would support those cuts.

Many congressional Republicans think they have a way to make the cuts they want -- just sit back and let the sequester cuts happen. I think they are wrong. The pain from the sequester cuts won't be immediate, but it will become known in plenty of time to hurt them in the 2014 elections.

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