Which Side Are You On? The Battle of the Budget

The public favors increased domestic appropriations, but the Bush administration and their conservative allies refuse to listen.

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Congress is in the middle of a battle over the budget. On one side are those who want the budget to include higher appropriations for programs in health care, education, infrastructure, homeland security, and law enforcement. On the other side are President Bush and his conservative allies who want to cut these domestic appropriations on the grounds that the levels proposed by the majority in Congress represent, as usual, wasteful and unneeded spending.

But which side is the public on? Thanks to a September poll by Hart Research for AFSCME/US Action, we can answer that question quite definitively.

The poll asked about spending proposals in 13 different areas and the public sided with proposals for higher spending levels in each case. The results for nine of these areas are shown below. Support levels in these areas range from 63 percent for an additional $35 billion for the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, an additional $1.5 billion for schools/Head Start, and an additional $1.6 billion for law enforcement/crime to 71 percent for an additional $630 million on highways and bridges and 74 percent for an additional $3.7 billion on veterans’ health care.

Evidently, “tax and spend” scare talk just doesn’t play the way it once did. The public appears quite willing to support increased spending to meet widely recognized social needs. Widely recognized outside of President Bush and his congressional allies, that is.


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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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