2014

Sequester and Automatic Spending Cuts are Days Away But Majorities Of Americans Oppose Cuts In Many Big Ticket Items More than three in ten U.S. adults want increases in spending for education and health care

NEW YORK, Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In just a few days the federal government will begin to alert federal employees about upcoming furloughs and cutting programs to come up with the mandatory spending cuts that go into effect with the sequester on March 1st. And, while there have always been discussions on cutting the government, a new Harris Poll finds that only rather small minorities of the public want to cut most of the biggest federal government programs. 

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Only 12% of the public want to see a cut in Social Security payments, 19% want to cut federal aid to education and 23% want to cut federal health care programs. In fact, over three in ten U.S. adults want to see increases in spending for education (37%) and health care (31%). The only programs of the 20 listed in the poll that half or more of Americans want to cut are foreign economic aid (77%), foreign military aid (74%), spending by regulatory agencies (55%), subsidies to business (54%), federal welfare spending (51%), and the space program (50%). In fact, almost half (49%) would favor a major cut in foreign economic aid and 45% would favor a major cut in foreign military aid.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,278 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 17 and 22, 2013 by Harris Interactive.   

Americans are evenly divided on defense spending, with 46% saying they favor a cut and the same percentage saying they would oppose a cut in defense spending. Just under half of U.S. adults (49%) oppose a cut in the food stamp program while 44% would favor a cut.

Trends over time
The Harris Poll first asked these questions thirty-two years ago, in 1980, towards the end of Jimmy Carter's presidency.  At that time, substantially more people wanted to cut all these areas of government spending than do today.  For example, 23% wanted to cut Social Security payments (compared to 12% now), 65% wanted to cut spending on food stamps (compared to 44% now), and 59% wanted to cut Federal highway financing (compared to 26% now). The only outlier is defense spending. In 1980, 34% of Americans wanted to cut defense spending, while today 46% want to cut it.

The Different Opinions of Republicans and Democrats
Unsurprisingly, Democrats and Republicans have somewhat different opinions on these issues. More Republicans than Democrats want to cut almost all of these programs.  For example, Republicans are much more likely to favor cutting federal welfare spending (74% compared to 32%), food stamps (67% vs. 27%), federal housing programs (57% vs. 24%), pollution control (52% vs. 20%), and health care (41% vs. 9%).  On the other hand, Democrats are much more in favor of cutting defense spending (61% vs. 21%) and space programs (53% vs. 44%) than are Republicans.

The only area where there is agreement is on foreign military aid – three-quarters of both Republicans (75%) and Democrats (74%) favor cuts in this area.

So What?
It's clear that Americans have some clear feelings on what programs they believe should and, more importantly, should not be cut. However, the sequester is something that will hit this week across the board, with ALL agencies having to feel the burden of spending cuts. As programs that impact their daily lives are hit, will Americans change their feelings on some of these areas?

TABLE 1
CUTTING GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS
"Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?"

Base: All Adults


FAVOR

CUT

(NET)

Major

cut

Minor

cut

OPPOSE

CUT

(NET)

No cut in

Spending

Increase in spending

Not at

all

sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

77

49

28

15

12

3

8

Foreign military aid

74

45

30

17

14

3

9

Spending by the regulatory

agencies generally

55

25

29

30

24

5

16

Subsidies to business

54

25

29

36

30

6

10

Federal welfare spending

51

26

24

42

34

8

7

Space programs

50

23

27

41

28

14

9

Defense spending

46

19

26

46

33

13

8

The food stamp program

44

21

23

49

36

12

7

Federal housing programs

40

16

25

51

37

14

9

Farm subsidies

40

17

23

50

37

13

11

Federally funded scientific research programs

37

13

24

53

36

17

9

Spending for mass transportation

34

12

23

56

36

20

10

Pollution control

33

12

21

58

41

17

9

Federal aid to cities

31

8

23

59

46

14

10

Federal job training programs

31

10

20

61

40

21

8

Federal highway financing

26

4

22

65

44

21

9

Revenue sharing with states and cities

25

8

17

59

47

12

16

Health care

23

11

12

69

38

31

8

Federal aid to education

19

7

11

73

36

37

8

Social security payments

12

4

9

80

52

28

8

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 2
CUTTING GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS BY POLITICAL PARTY
"Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?"
Summary of those saying "Favor major cut" or "Favor minor cut"

Base: All Adults


Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

77

85

72

80

Foreign military aid

74

75

74

77

Spending by the regulatory agencies generally

55

70

44

58

Subsidies to business

54

57

47

60

Federal welfare spending

51

74

32

56

Space programs

50

44

53

54

Defense spending

46

21

61

47

The food stamp program

44

67

27

48

Federal housing programs

40

57

24

48

Farm subsidies

40

41

33

47

Federally funded scientific research programs

37

48

29

40

Spending for mass transportation

34

50

25

36

Pollution control

33

52

20

35

Federal aid to cities

31

43

20

35

Federal job training programs

31

43

20

33

Federal highway financing

26

30

24

26

Revenue sharing with states and cities

25

32

19

27

Health care

23

41

9

26

Federal aid to education

19

31

8

22

Social security payments

12

20

7

13

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 3
CUTTING SPECIFIC GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS – TREND
"Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?"
Summary of those saying "favor a major cut" or "favor a minor cut"

Base: All Adults


Favor Cut (NET)

Change 1980-

2013

1980

2008

2011

2012

2013

%

%

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

82

74

75

79

77

-5

Foreign military aid

77

69

69

74

74

-3

Spending by the regulatory agencies generally

72

53

56

56

55

-17

Subsidies to business

69

62

51

57

54

-15

Federal welfare spending

69

52

51

52

51

-18

Space programs

66

49

54

52

50

-16

Defense spending

34

35

41

42

46

+12

The food stamp program

65

43

40

43

44

-21

Federal housing programs

54

39

41

40

40

-14

Farm subsidies

53

44

42

42

40

-13

Federally funded scientific research programs

51

35

42

40

37

-14

Spending for mass transportation

42

28

35

35

34

-8

Pollution control

49

22

37

37

33

-16

Federal aid to cities

58

33

34

33

31

-27

Federal job training programs

NA

NA

NA

32

31

NA

Federal highway financing

59

24

31

25

26

-33

Revenue sharing with states and cities

53

30

28

26

25

-28

Health care

37

12

24

22

23

-14

Federal aid to education

37

17

21

21

19

-18

Social security payments

23

8

11

12

12

-11

Note: Please note that in 1980, this survey was conducted by telephone

Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 and 22, 2012 among 2,278 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J42773
Q755

The Harris Poll® #8, February 25, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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