Voters: Cut the deficit but don’t cut spending

This is one poll result that’s absolutely no surprise: Democracy Corps has found that voters are alarmed by the deficit, but they don’t want to raise taxes or cut spending to deal with it:

Despite these concerns, voters are reluctant to attack the deficit through tax increases or spending cuts on entitlements. In this economy, voters are wary of raising taxes, even if the revenue raised goes to something they deem important, like paying down the deficit. A majority (51 percent) say that even though the deficit is a big problem, we should not raise taxes to bring it down, while only 43 percent say that we might have to raise taxes to reduce the deficit. . .
And by an even wider 2:1 margin, voters reject cuts in Social Security, Medicare or defense spending to bring the deficit down (61 to 30 percent). With nearly three-quarters of the federal budget devoted to these items, exempting them from cuts leaves little room to make realistic progress on deficit reduction. This rejection of spending cuts runs across the political spectrum, with even the most conservative wing of the Republican Party — voters who generally fancy themselves as “deficit hawks” — roundly rejecting the idea of cutting spending to pay down the deficit.

Nearly half of voters think the deficit can be reduced without real cost to entitlements, with 48 percent believing there is enough waste and inefficiency in government spending for the deficit to be reduced through spending cuts while keeping health care, Social Security, unemployment benefits and other services from being hurt. But 43 percent believe the opposite, that any cuts will hurt these programs. There is a real difference on this among the more marginalized segments of the voting public – those who voted in 2008 but are likely to drop off in the 2010 midterms. For this group, 47 percent think spending cuts will hurt entitlements while 39 percent think there is enough waste to make cuts without any pain.

The budget busters are defense, Social Security and Medicare, as this chart shows:

Pie chart of budget outlays for fiscal year 2007

Pie chart of budget outlays for fiscal year 2007

107 comments Add your comment

jconservative

March 31st, 2010
4:59 pm

This illustrates the problem. Tea party types, deficit hawks and all others want a generic fix to the deficit. And, perhaps with the exception of Ron Paul, no politician will supply a list of the cuts he would like to see. To reduce the deficit SOMETHING must be cut. But the American people do not want to cut anything but what we are wasting.
That problem is that all the waste and inefficiency that has been identified amounts to almost nothing. For example, for FY 2010 Medicare/Medicaid/CHIP waste, abuse, theft is 2.4% of the total, about $1.8 billion. That is not much of an impact on a $1.6 trillion deficit.

joan

March 31st, 2010
5:22 pm

I am not for cutting those so called entitlements that people have paid into all their lives like medicare and social security (although I know some who get SS who have never worked–what is that about), but you sure can cut the give aways like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps. The people who get these haven’t done anything to earn them except draw breath. Not a qualifier in my opinion. And you could cut Congress’ salaries and benefits! They sure aren’t worth what they are paid.

Peadawg

March 31st, 2010
5:32 pm

“And you could cut Congress’ salaries and benefits!”

AMEN to that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll support cuts in SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.. I don’t know how we can cut spending when we’re still in Afghanistan. As far as taxes go…that inevitable. Whether people like it or not, whether Obama denies it or not…higher taxes are going to have to happen.

BTW, Cynthia, could you take my other ip address off your block list please? Bookman’s blogs aren’t as fun as yours.

Chris Broe

March 31st, 2010
5:44 pm

“Whether people like it or not, whether Obama denies it or not…higher taxes are going to have to happen.”

Thank you, Walter Mondale.

Michael

March 31st, 2010
6:25 pm

Joan, how do you know what these people have done? Have you interviewed them all to find out why they’re poor or needy? I’m guessing all of those autoworkers who were laid off in the last few years after decades of work are just lazy bums.

Chris, I’ll totally agree with you. Even if we literally balanced the budget with no surplus or deficit, we’re still probably talking $300 billion or $400 billion in interest. That’s the whole “money passed on to your children” people clamor about. I think getting people jobs will help with a lot of that deficit, but we’re going to have to raise taxes without big spending increases to fix it. I would also be for eliminating a LOT of special tax deductions, the ones that clutter tax software with crazy questions. No more deductions like the one last decade that allowed businesses to deduct super-expensive SUVs bought for business expenses.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

March 31st, 2010
6:32 pm

Well, it looks like what we need is what was done under the Bush administration. Spend the money for the wars but don’t count it under the budget. That way, we get our wars, the budget gets balanced, and we don’t get a tax increase. Works for me.

I’m just real suprized most of the godly Republicans didn’t want to cut SS and Medicare and send all those worthless old bums out to get a job as greeters at WalMart. I bet they’re waiting for the Easter Bunny to come too.

Anyhow, we sure don’t need a tax increase on the well-off. If we get that, Trickle Down won’t never happen. I been waiting for it since 1980, and it ain’t started trickling yet—and I’m not even well-off. Maybe us people waiting for that are looking for the Easter Bunny too.

Have a good night everybody.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 31st, 2010
6:42 pm

Good evening all. Looks to me like non-defense discretionary spending plus “education” spending plus “environment” spending equal almost 25% of the entire budget. So what’s the problem?

wdw

March 31st, 2010
7:37 pm

once again…all quotes and no column…taking from others are we???

blutto

March 31st, 2010
7:46 pm

“Democracy Corps.”

Now there’s a totally unbiased source if ever there was one. By the way, is it pronounced “core” or “corpse”? Evidently, some former law professor/community organizer from Chicago needs to know.

Dirty old man

March 31st, 2010
8:05 pm

Blutto, Ronald Reagan is a corpse. Thought you were eating.

Mark

March 31st, 2010
8:06 pm

Anyone surprised that after the drrunken spending spree that the progressives like Tucker want to raise taxes?
Anyone amazed that they want to talk about jobs but want to tax the very engines of employment and growth?
These policies have failed before. Failed here and failed elsewhere.
Obamacrats are one trick idelogues. More government is the solution for absolutely everything.
More government, less freedom, less common sense.
Obamacrats, like Tucker, are intellecutally bankrupt.

jt

March 31st, 2010
8:13 pm

Did that pie chart include what Charlie Rangel owes in back taxes and penalties?

Peoples Republic

March 31st, 2010
8:14 pm

I have an idea. How about we ask the people that actually PAY income tax what THEY would rather do? Of course half the folks think we’ll have to raise taxes. They don’t PAY any! Or, I know, how about another wild idea? Let’s look at that little pie chart, and start cutting things that are unconstitutional, outside of our ultra-liberal interpretation of the Commerce clause?

Defense? Its in.
Environment? Out.
Education? should be out, but let’s leave for now.
Entitlements? OUT.
International Affairs? Mostly out.
Judicial? In.

And let’s drop the “Bush sucked so we can suck too” speech. Yes, Bush/Pelosi/Reid was a DISASTER when it came to fiscal responsibility. And Obama/Pelosi/Reid are shaping up to be much, much worse.

Tom Middleton

March 31st, 2010
8:24 pm

So what are the alternatives, Cynthia? Should we start cutting government anyway and hope the voters won’t get mad and get even at the polls?

Or maybe we should do more tax cuts for the rich like the Republicans did and add another $1.8 trillion or so to our debt. And didn’t Bush double our national debt to $10 trillion during his two terms in office because he didn’t want to pay for anything?

Or what if we all became “patriotic” tea-partiers and started spitting on minority members of Congress, throwing bricks through windows, cutting gas lines, waving guns all over the place – anything to get on cable TV – but without a philosophical clue as to the best way forward for our country? (Hey, at least we could help half-governor Palin get richer than even she thought possible. Move over Limbaugh!)

Or since most of us claim some sort of religion or another, what if each of us started living the two basic principles found in every religion – love of God and love of one another – so we can eliminate even the need for the mega-sized government currently necessary to keep us strong, competitive, and capable of defeating our enemies?

But wait, Christians acting like real Christians, you know, the kind Jesus taught us to be? Is this even possible? Maybe we should just blow it all up and start over again. But still…Christians acting like real Christians? Now what an intriguing idea. Maybe there’s hope for us after all!

Keep up the good fight!

March 31st, 2010
8:33 pm

Hey jt, how about including the taxes owed by CStreet and John Ensign and others? Seems they have some major tax and ethics problems for their “fake” church.

I pay taxes…..Environment and Intl Affairs….In…..of course we can go back to more chemicals in our water and dumps and then suffer the medical consequences…..”evironment … out” is about the stupid as saying “hey China, we need more lead in our kids.”

Let’s get some sense and quit trotting out the talking points….We are going to have to tighten the belts, give back the tax cuts that were never paid for, cut some of the tax benefits given corporations such as tax holidays and continue to find ways to make government more efficient. It’s not going to get done with talking points and tea parties. Its not going to get done by continued yap about “capitalism” first….It going to take some dramatic revisions of tax code. Force China to let its currency find real value against the dollar and bring back jobs and investment to the US.

Or we could just have a stupidity and ignornance tax…Joan, whoa, you have got a big tax bill coming if that goes through.

b

March 31st, 2010
8:42 pm

isn’t the tanning salon tax going to cover it all?

Peoples Republic

March 31st, 2010
8:45 pm

I love it. First, there’s no “giving back”. Yep, tax cuts weren’t paid for. Now let’s pay for them. But giving back? It isn’t the government’s money! Its mine, being taken via force!

And how about a little ECON 101? Corporations don’t pay taxes….people do. Logic, and study after study after study show that the burden of corporate taxes is born by employees of those corporations (in the form of unemployment and lower wages) and consumers (in the form of higher prices).

Fine. You pay taxes, so some environmental spending is in. But some of it needs to go. But before we get to that, we’d better start focusing on the Big 3 (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid). Over the next 10 years these, plus our rapidly growing national debt, will consume something like 70% (!!!!!) of federal expenditures…and growing. So we’d better start phasing these pyramid schemes out of existence, lest we end up with a much larger version of an Italian or Greek economy.

LJ

March 31st, 2010
8:49 pm

It seems like most people don’t understand the magnitude of the danger that the deficit poses to the security and future of the United States. This isn’t a political “talking point”, this is the most immediate threat to the foundation of our economy and national security.

I’ll put it like this:
Saying we shouldn’t cut programs is a bit like protesting a military draft while the mainland US is under invasion from a foreign enemy and is facing complete destruction.

Interestingly enough we are spending more money on entitlements every month currently than the Federal government is taking in receipts(over 60% of the expenditures in Feb of 2010 were entitlements).

And this chart(and article) are beyond outdated. Look at THIS YEARS budget and you just might cry… Social security is in the red, Defense spending is down to 18%, and entitlements are through the roof.

The current congress and president(and congresses and presidents for the past 10 years…) have shown little interest in tackling this real emergency.

I sincerely hope the current congress and president get voted out of office before we reach the point of no return. If we don’t adopt fiscally sustainable policies our nation will cease to exist.

Kevin

March 31st, 2010
8:56 pm

That’s interesting. Plenty of other polls showed Americans overwhelmingly opposing Obamacare. But that sure as hell didn’t stop the Dems from passing that.

I guess the moral of the story is that polls don’t really matter one way or the other.

Kevin

March 31st, 2010
8:57 pm

Tom, please click your heels three times and you’ll be returned to Oz. Because you’re clearly not living in reality.

oldmac

March 31st, 2010
9:03 pm

Totally disagree with the premise of your argument-the only solution is to make the pies bigger, not cut them differently. Only way to do that is to CUT TAXES! You people never learn.

Tom Middleton

March 31st, 2010
9:13 pm

Kevin 8:57 pm: Tom, please click your heels three times and you’ll be returned to Oz. Because you’re clearly not living in reality.

Kevin, that’s returned to KANSAS…lol. I am in reality, dude, and you?

Billy O

March 31st, 2010
9:19 pm

We’ve got to cut taxes and CUT SPENDING. Every single time taxes have been cut revenues have increased signficantly. The govt always spends that and then some. It is not a dem or rep problem…..IT IS ALL OF THEM….THEY ALL HAVE TO GO……they are stealing our country from us….wake up!!!!

Mark

March 31st, 2010
9:21 pm

Obama and the democrats always wanted to raise taxes and drive spending throug the roof. Government spending can absolutely be controlled…the massive spending of the Obmama administration and the radical lefties in Congress can be reversed. It’s not rocket science.
People like Tucker are too clueless to be actually evil.
It’s a shame that stupid isn’t painful.

ctucker

March 31st, 2010
9:29 pm

Mark, You don’t get to call any commenters, including me, “stupid” on this blog.

ctucker

March 31st, 2010
9:34 pm

Tom, I think a combination of tax increases and spending cuts are absolutely necessary. In fact, the Social Security fix isn’t that difficult: Increase payroll taxes on those who make over $100,000 a year. Those earners pay less proportionately than people who earn less.

Jason T

March 31st, 2010
9:34 pm

@peadawg

She’s blocked me too—I guess Ms Tucker has a little problem with free speech.

ctucker

April 1st, 2010
8:38 am

Jason T, Had you read my last post last night, you would have known that I turned off commenting at around 9 p.m. I don’t stay up all night to monitor the blog, and some of my commenters can’t be trusted to conduct themselves civilly without monitoring.

Williebkind

April 1st, 2010
8:39 am

Jason T

March 31st, 2010
9:34 pm

Free speech is defined by the progressive liberals. Have you not noticed?

tm

April 1st, 2010
8:39 am

Just wandering. If a family of 4 children two adults has a gross income of $275,000 per year. What is the total amount per year that you believe that family should pay for federal state income taxes, social security taxes, and local property school taxes.

Gordon

April 1st, 2010
8:43 am

Cynthia,

You realize, don’t you, that the reason FICA taxable earnings are capped at $100,000 is because benefits are capped as well. High earners may pay less proportionately, but a person who makes $500,000 a year recieves no more benefit than a person making exactly the FICA limit. I am speaking about OASDI, not Medicare.

I don’t care what polls say. If we don’t cut entitlement spending, we WILL go bankrupt. There is a $100 TRILLION unfunded liability in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The government can print money, but that solution is no better. This isn’t politics, this is math.

Williebkind

April 1st, 2010
8:46 am

I heard on the news this morning that college students and others could get food stamps now. Hey they are entitled! Right!

Keep up the good fight!

April 1st, 2010
8:53 am

hyey kids, those of you strict constitutionalists, the 1st amendment does not apply to private people. The AJC is not the government. Therefore, Ms. Tucker and the AJC do not have to let any comments be posted. Maybe you need to go to the Tea Party Nation website and post anything they dont completely agree with. Their TOS even state they will kick you out for being “liberal” or for that matter “moderate” or “independent”. If you dont spout Tea Party talking points, you are out. By that standard, Ms. Tucker is certain 100x more tolerant especially given the daily personal attacks and abuse she has to take here daily for her opinion. Try it on Fox and B OReilly tells you to shut up and cut your mic.

JB

April 1st, 2010
9:01 am

Half in this country is paying for the other half and the people in Washington who are in charge( for now) thinks that’s Ok, and when they need more money, they either go to the half that’s producing it or print more money, therefore the debate is on. I paid $94,000 in Federal Taxes last year ( from working my ass off, not a trust fund) and next year when the Bush Tax cuts expire, it will swell to about 120,000. Now, this is a great country and love what she has afforded me to do, but when is enough enough? When will this guy be through SPREADING my wealth ?

JB

April 1st, 2010
9:07 am

Obama policy: The working folks got it. Got more than they need. We’re gonna get you some. It’s just not right they have all that money sitting in the bank while you’re struggling. We’re taking about half now, but about 65% is fair and that’s hope and change you can believe in.

ctucker

April 1st, 2010
9:08 am

Williebkind, I don’t know what you heard on the news, but that’s not correct. A “liberated” college student — one he can prove he gets no support from his parents — has always been eligible for government assistance. But if the college student is supported by parents with middle-income salaries, he doesn’t get food stamps.

Blue

April 1st, 2010
9:09 am

From CT “Tom, I think a combination of tax increases and spending cuts are absolutely necessary. In fact, the Social Security fix isn’t that difficult: Increase payroll taxes on those who make over $100,000 a year. Those earners pay less proportionately than people who earn less.”
Yeah, Cynthia, as a high income earner, look at the overall tax I pay versus someon who earns less? Between Federal, State, FICA, etc…I paid over 40% in taxes! And they you and Bookman and your ilk will say “tax rich people more” and the age old “tax cuts for the rich” crud. Well, the IRS reports numbers every year, and it goes like this: 50% of federal tax is paid by the top 5% of income earners. 97% of federal tax is paid by the top 50% of income earners. Now HEAR me, liberals; I’m not even saying that I think I should pay less and lower income people should pay more. BUT…asking me to pay more or accusing me of not paying enough is ludicrous. When you factor in sales tax, I pay almost 50% of what I make. How can you truly, in good conscience, with any amount of pride, ask me to do more? REDUCE GOVERNMENT; reduce spending. And put more taxes on companies? As peoples republic said well in his econ101 lesson, I’m sure the companies won’t pass that along to the consumer or…better yet…take their business offshore (look at manufacturing numbers). Wow…we’ve got some truly ignorant people out there.

ctucker

April 1st, 2010
9:10 am

Williebkind, The 1st Amendment gives the right to say whatever you want on your own blog. It doesn’t give you the right to say whatever you want on MY blog. Got it now?

Marine

April 1st, 2010
9:12 am

How much foreign aid is “funded”?

JB

April 1st, 2010
9:20 am

Picture this: You’re on a farm. Some folks sitting on the porch rocking, drinking lemonade. Some out in the sun and fields picking the crop. At the end of the day, the pickers ( workers) come in and HAVE TO GIVE HALF of what they picked to the one’s rocking on the porch. Then the mean ole farmer say’s, you know, i think i’ll give the one’s rocking a little more. The pickers have plenty. I’ve really gotten close to the porch sitters and their troubles. I just think it’s the right thing to do…………………Welcome to the new American farming system !

blutto

April 1st, 2010
9:21 am

Keep up the good fight! @8:33pm:

“Give back the tax cuts that were never paid for”? While I understand that Washington types love to use such language, “paying for a tax cut” is a strange concept. The money taken by taxes belonged first to the person who earned it. If “paying” for it means reducing government spending then fine. But if it means merely shifting the tax burden to someone else then no thanks.

Also, good luck with cutting the “tax benefits given corporations.” Sure you’ll cut some but others will pop up as politicians of all stripes will never surrender the power to reward friends and to punish opponents.

As for “making government more efficient,” that miracle would be similar to making water less wet.

Note to Dirty Old Man: I was out of line in responding to an earlier post. I apologize.

Drinking the koolaid...

April 1st, 2010
9:22 am

You can’t keep spending money you don’t have without raising taxes if you want a lower deficit- that is just mathmatics.

I Report/You Decide

April 1st, 2010
9:26 am

Raising taxes on the so-called “rich” will NOT increase revenues. It will only incent high-income earners to seek tax shelters, or scale back their businesses. If you want to reduce the deficit, you have two choices; 1) Cut spending 2) Ask the 50% of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes to start sharing the load.

JB

April 1st, 2010
9:26 am

ctucker @ 9:10……………………..Obama couldn’t of said it better….LOL

I Report/You Decide

April 1st, 2010
9:28 am

Marginal rates on high income earners are already at the point of diminishing returns. When you start charging people 70% or more of their income, they say “screw it” and quit working.

tm

April 1st, 2010
9:29 am

lets make it a poll-Just wandering. If a family of 4 children two adults has a gross income of $275,000 per year. What is the total amount per year that you believe that family should pay for federal state income taxes, social security taxes, and local property school taxes.
A. $35,000
B. $50,000
C. $65,000
D. $80,000
E. Other

midtownguy

April 1st, 2010
9:29 am

I have worked for both the Federal Government and the Boeing Company. All large organizations have waste and inefficiency, but not enough to significantly alter the bottom line.

I recall a statement made by a former Alabama State Finance Director regarding decreasing the budget. It was “When citizens hear the phrase “tax reform” they assume their tax will decrease because they are paying too much, and it is someone else who is not paying their fair share. Conversely, when they hear the phrase “spending cuts” they assume the services and programs they utilize are under-funded and that those utilized by others are wasteful.”

I will give you an example. I don’t have children, so I deem the Free School Lunch program “wasteful.” But ask my laid-off neighbor who is struggling to keep her kids in school and the mortgage paid, and you will get an entirely different opinion.

ctucker

April 1st, 2010
9:32 am

I Report, Marginal rates were higher during the Clinton administration, a recent period of growth and prosperity.

Morrus

April 1st, 2010
9:32 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

ctucker

April 1st, 2010
9:34 am

Blue, Since you don’t know what I make, you don’t know how much I’m paying in taxes. For all you know, I may have paid more in taxes last year than you did.