POLL: Majority Say Trimming Deficit Would Help Economy More than New Government Spending

February 20, 2013
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Six in ten likely voters prefer deficit reduction to more stimulus-style spending, according to a recent survey

DENVER – A majority of likely voters, 61 percent, say that cutting the federal deficit would do more to help the economy than would more spending on infrastructure, education and clean energy, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll.

The survey results suggest that most Americans are increasingly uneasy with growing deficits and remain skeptical about calls for more federal spending on green energy and “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects to stimulate a U.S economy that shrunk last quarter.

Nearly two-thirds of men, 64 percent, said shrinking the deficit would do more to kick-start the economy, compared to just 34 percent who said that additional federal spending on clean energy, education and infrastructure would do more to spur growth.

Women preferred deficit cutting over more federal spending as a means of helping the economy by a similar margin (58 percent to 33 percent).

Respondents split along political lines, however.

Those who identified themselves as Republicans, the vast majority, 82 percent said reducing the deficit would do more for the economy.

By comparison, half of Democrats – 50 percent – said more targeted government spending was the best approach, compared to 40 percent who say deficit cutting would do more.

Among those who did not identify themselves as either Democrats or Republicans, a majority favored trimming the deficit over more federal spending (64 percent to 32 percent).

The results are consistent with those of other recent surveys showing rising public concern about record budget deficits, and overwhelming opposition to additional stimulus-style spending.

The findings come as Congress and President Obama remain deadlocked over spending cuts, known as “the sequester”, scheduled to take effect on March 1.

President Obama signed legislation authorizing the sequester nearly two years ago.  At the time, he expressed strong support for the spending cuts.

“Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts.  My message to them is simple: No,” said Obama in November 2011.  “I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.”

But President Obama has since reversed course, and is now calling on Congress to delay or cancel those scheduled cuts.  In addition, the President outlined an estimated $80 billion in new spending in his State of the Union speech, which called for funding more infrastructure, clean energy and education related initiatives.

Congressional Republicans already agreed to a tax hike in January, and many in the GOP say it is now time for Democrats to compromise on reducing spending.

Scheduled spending cuts “were already agreed to by both parties,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told Roll Call last week.  “We agreed to reduce this amount of spending in October of 2011, without raising taxes. We’ve already made this agreement.

The Rassmussen Reports national poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters between February 12 and February 13, and has a margin of error of + / – 3 percentage points.

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