CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

Public Opinion Snapshot: Public’s Dos and Don’ts on Handling the Fiscal Showdown

  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon

The debate on how to handle the so-called fiscal showdown is the focus of attention in Congress these days. Recent polls have given the public a chance to weigh in on its priorities in this debate. As an extensive, just-released Pew Research Center poll makes clear, the key priorities for the public can be summed up as:

  • Raise tax rates on those who can afford it.
  • Don’t raise the Medicare or Social Security eligibility ages.
  • Don’t cut spending in critical areas such as education, transportation, and aid to the poor.

In the Pew poll, an overwhelming majority (69 percent to 28 percent) said we should raise the income tax rate on those making $250,000 or more to help close the deficit. The public also endorsed raising the tax rate on investment income by 52 percent to 43 percent.

Figure 1

The same poll showed the public opposed raising the Medicare eligibility age (56 percent to 41 percent) or the Social Security eligibility age (56 percent to 42 percent).

Figure 2

Finally, the public massively opposed reducing federal funding for education to reduce the deficit by a margin of 77 percent to 21 percent. They also opposed reducing federal funding for roads and transportation (67 percent to 30 percent) and opposed reducing federal funding for low-income assistance programs (58 percent to 38 percent).

Figure 3

The solution to the fiscal showdown is not yet clear. But the public’s priorities on that solution are. Let’s hope policymakers are paying attention.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or


This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here