So You Want to Cut the Budget

Conservatives and the public differ on which programs should be axed in the budget, writes Ruy Teixeira.

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Conservatives are on the rampage about cutting government spending. But their proposed cuts leave the military largely untouched while taking a meat axe to nonmilitary discretionary spending—that is, spending on areas such as education, energy, the environment, and poverty. As usual, conservative priorities are backward when compared to public opinion.

In a fascinating new survey the Program for Public Consultation conducted, respondents were asked to make their own cuts (or increases) to a projected discretionary budget for the year 2015 with a $625 billion deficit. The top three areas for cuts were defense ($109 billion average cut), intelligence agencies ($13 billion), and Iraq/Afghanistan ($13 billion)—the very areas conservatives are going light on.

On the other hand, the public wanted to see spending increases in a number of other areas. The top four areas for increases are exactly the kinds of programs conservatives are ready to cut deeply in their current antispending frenzy: job training ($5 billion average increase), higher education ($5 billion), renewable energy ($3 billion), and elementary and secondary education ($3 billion).

I sincerely hope some of the conservative budget cutters on Capitol Hill actually read this study. It should give them some second thoughts about their current plans if they care at all about what the public thinks.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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