Public Balks at Spending Cuts

Conservatives are fighting amongst themselves about how deep spending cuts should be this year. But they seem blithely unaware that there is little public support for spending cuts, much less deep cuts.

Consider these data from a just-released Pew poll. When asked about a number of possible areas where the federal budget could be cut the public shied away from decreasing spending in area after area. Under 30 percent called for spending cuts in 16 of 18 areas with the least enthusiasm for cuts in veterans’ benefits (6 percent), education (11 percent), Medicare (12 percent), Social Security (12 percent), public schools (13 percent), and college financial aid (16 percent).

Nor is the public enthusiastic about spending cuts to balance state budgets. Just 18 percent support decreasing funding for K-12 schools, 21 percent support decreasing health care services, and 31 percent support decreasing funding for roads and public transportation. And support is still only split (47-47) on cutting the pension plans of public employees despite the relentless barrage of conservative attacks on public-sector workers.

At some point you’d think conservatives would realize that they and the public are not on the same page when it comes to cutting government spending. But that would require looking beyond ideology to actual realities. I suppose we shouldn’t hold our breath.

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.