Public divided on how to attack deficit
November 30th, 2010
04:57 PM ET
7 years ago

Public divided on how to attack deficit

(CNN) – Americans are at odds over how to tighten the country's fiscal belt and that's reflected in a similar conflict in leaders of government.

Ninety percent of the public can agree that the economy is the most important issue right now. But according to a new Associated Press-CNBC poll, the nation is divided over how to resolve the expanding deficit, which already exceeds one trillion dollars.

The poll reveals that 46 percent of the country would prefer increasing government spending on education, health care reform, and the development of alternative energy sources, even if it means that the deficit will grow. But, 47 percent say that reducing the deficit by cutting spending is the most important priority, even if it means the government could not implement new programs in the same areas. These findings echo the results from a CNN poll released two weeks ago; when asked if the government should spend more or less for domestic programs, half responded that it should spend more and half said it should spend less.

Despite the split, eight out of 10 believe that government services will have to be cut to balance the federal government, and almost two-thirds say some taxes will have to be increased. According to the AP-CNBC poll, the public agrees on what sacrifice will be needed. They also agree on cuts as six out of 10 say the government should reduce the number of federal workers and freeze their salaries and half of those surveyed say eliminating the tax deduction for mortgage interest is favorable if the overall income tax rate is lowered. Findings from the CNN poll are similar, as 68 percent of the public agreed that reducing the federal deficit is more important than preventing salary cuts for federal government workers.

Reducing education spending, the number of people in the military, and eliminating the child tax cut are, however, non-negotiable to over 60 percent of Americans, according to the survey. Just under half favor reducing Medicare and under half oppose reducing it. There is a similar divide among those in favor and those opposed to reducing Social Security benefits for seniors with higher incomes. The CNN poll underscores the finding that over half of the country said they were in favor of reducing Social Security for the wealthy to reduce the deficit.

Adding to the list of subjects over which the nation disagrees, Obama's approval rating similarly reflects a country divided; 48 percent both approve and disapprove of how he's handling his job. Though four in ten trust Democrats to handle the economy, the same amount trust the GOP to manage the deficit.

The mood of the nation continues to be solemn since 61 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction. When asked to look toward the future, almost half expect that life for the next generation of Americans to be worse and more than half fear the federal deficit will cause a major economic crisis for this country in the next ten years.

Actions to address the federal deficit are currently underway. The president announced a plan to freeze pay for federal workers on Monday, a move in line with the majority of public opinion. The bipartisan debt commission appointed by President Obama to recommend solutions for balancing the budget is also due to issue a report this week, and has discussed targeting Social Security and Medicare to increase savings.

The AP-CNBC survey was conducted by GfK Roper from November 18-22 among 1,000 adults on landline and cellular phones. It has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.3 percentage points.

Filed under: CNN poll • Deficit • Polls
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Me

    Gawd I hate you and your POLLS!
    Isn't this a poll that should be directed at members of congress?

    November 30, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Funny, no mention in the corporate media of Jan Schakowsky's plan to cut the deficit. I wonder why. Oh yeah, it's socialistical. Have a nice day!

    November 30, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Barry

    Here we go. We need to cut the deficit, but don't touch any program that directly benefits me. If we actually spent the money to hire people who could weed out the waste and fraud in the budget, we would be in the black in a decade. If we lowered the tax rate and cut out all loopholes for the rich (tax shelters and such) and all but a basic deduction, we would be in the black even sooner. If Social Security taxed all income (no limit), the surplus would never disappear. None of this will ever happen.

    November 30, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I don't understand why Americans are divided on how to attack the deficit after sending in their "attack dogs", the Republicans to fix everything. But wait, I forgot, the Republicans never gave any solutions to fix anything just repeated what we already know, so they don't have to do anything.

    November 30, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. King

    Take the rich 700 billion tax cut and put 6 to 7 million people to work Obama, by-pass the states, they will get their money via state tax. Corporations are not doing their jobs reinvesting their trillions of dollars they have on the side lines, back into the economy. this venture will creat epic demand and new small business creations, which will hire even more people. the country's infrastructures and transportation systems need to be modernized, we can't keep holding off and being passive all the time, we might never get the chance to over take the countries that will be passing us by again.

    November 30, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. @Omegaraiel (twitter)

    I think we should ONLY tax those making more than 250k a year and increase taxes on those making over 1 million. The top 20% are keeping 80+% of the wealth to themselves so they should pay.

    November 30, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. @Omegaraiel (twitter)

    If the rich actually used their bloated wallets to hire people and pay their workers well, we wouldn't have a crappy economy. As it is, we can't afford what we make.

    November 30, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. solutions

    Isn't it obvious? Cut spending. Stop overtaxing.

    1) Government employees should never make more than the median income of the private sector (for similar-type jobs)
    2) Realistic benefits for government employees
    3) Trim excess spending associated with the Department of Energy and Educations - slowly eliminating them completely (education is a responsibility of the state. No need for redundancy)
    4) Secure the borders and enforce current immigration laws
    5) Stop passing laws/policies that drive business overseas (minimum wage, card check, cap and trade, unions....)
    6) Reduce the number of government employees (Michelle Obama has 26 personal employees)
    7) FLAT TAX (everyone pays, everyone benefits, no loopholes...)
    8) Simplify regulations/laws so that they are more understandable.
    9) Vote for Mitt Romney in 2012

    November 30, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "If the rich actually used their bloated wallets to hire people and pay their workers well, we wouldn't have a crappy economy. As it is, we can't afford what we make."

    You don't understand. It is only when two conditions are met that the already wealthy and large corporations will start hiring: (1) their Minimum Opulance Level can be maintained or increased and (2) they have successfully used their GOP puppets to extort the government for more tax cuts for themselves that the middle-class will have to pay for. You see, the LAST thing any of these golden-toilet-having jackholes will ever EVER do is sacrifice ANYTHING once they have it. If they're used to crapping in a gold toilet, they will not switch to silver so that employees do not need to be fired. That's the fact, jack. They will simply fire the employees and, instead of focusing on growing the business to maintain their Minimum Opulance Level, they will turn to wealth consolidation via financial instruments that really have nothing to do with making a contribution to the economy. This is what we've watched them do over the past 2 years and it is why the DOW is farting around at 10,000+/- while no jobs are being created. Now that they have their wealth, Wall Street gives them everything they need to horde it and even grow it without ever having to actually participate in a meaningful way in the economy ever again.

    November 30, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  10. solutions

    And stop the liberals from coveting other peoples' wealth–yes, the rich don't owe you anything.

    November 30, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. Peter E

    Does a millionaire CEO, making literally a thousand times the money that a coal miner, restaurant waitress, or a teacher earns, work a thousand times longer hours? How about a thousand times harder? No? Then why do they get paid a thousand times more?
    Flat taxes are fair only when the wages are fair! Tax breaks for all are only fair when the rich actually work proportionally to their salaries!
    Curious how republicans, the party of 'personal responsibility' that advocates that people should be rewarded for their hard work, somehow thinks that a waitress working 10 hour shifts, or a coal miner working 14 hour shifts should earn a thousand times less than a Wall street CEO but pay the same tax rate on her/his earnings.

    November 30, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. DENNA

    So basically, the election was held and a lot of people who have no idea what is going on voted in the conservatives to fix the economy, forgetting that they got us into this mess to begin with. No wonder China is ahead of us.

    November 30, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. the real ib

    Tell Obama to park AF1 and stop taking so many taxpayer vacations and that would cut down a lot. What a joke we have as president. I hope people wake up and he is a one termer.

    November 30, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  14. jules sand-perkins

    There the superlibs go again: tax the rich so the poor won't have to work, or, even worse, have to learn to do anything worth being paid to do.
    America has become an upside-down cake.
    How about attacking the deficit by abolishing welfare for the poor?
    There–now you have an "idea" from a Republican.
    Get jobs! If nobody will give you a job–probably because you can't do much of anything–make a job for yourself.
    Fords and Rockefellers did that.

    November 30, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. John D

    Like anybody believes a CNBC (LMAO) poll! The only ones who can't figure out how to attack the deficit are the moonbats currently in control. All they want to do or know how to do is spend, spend, SPEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 30, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. Limbaugh is a liberal

    We are already the generation that was robbed by our fathers and our grandfathers! Yes, the house you grew up in, your father's job all came from an economy artificially proped by the deficits of previous generations! Deficits are nothing new. As a result of unprecedented military spending during WWII our national debt became 120% of our economy! (yes, you can check that fact!) And yet we weren't bankrupted! It propelled us into the boom of the 50s. Yes! Deficit spending, 'robbing future generations' created a booming economy back then! It pumped a lot of money into businesses and corporations, initially as government contracts, but that helped them financially so well they could build on that and continue to expand and prosper! Why are people so afraid of deficits now? Why are they so afraid of government pumping money into the economy and creating jobs?

    November 30, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. Moby

    I am fine with the Obama tax hike but there should be an agreement up front on a reduction of federal employees back to 2008 levels and pay freezes for five years. Also there should be an across the board cut in all governemnt services and budgets.

    November 30, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. normajean

    I have finally reached a point where I just can't bear to listen to the news or the commentators. I voted for Obama and have believed in him giving it all he had to get this country back to the great one it was, but I've about given up."Rachel" likened Obama to" Charlie Brown" and the Repubs to "Lucy"and I think she's got something there! The President just seems to bend over backwards to work with the Repugs and they just continue to kick him in the teeth!! We have no hope until he starts kicking back and it doesn't look like he will. The Repugs will take everything they can get,no matter how rotten they have to be. They don"t give a damn about the people. Everything is for the "fat cats".I ASK YOU REPUBLICANS, "WHAT HAS YOUR PARTY DONE FOR YOU IN THE LAST TWO YEARS? DO YOU ALL HAVE GOOD JOBS AND GOOD HEALTH CARE, DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PROPERLY FEED YOUR FAMILY WITH MAYBE A LITTLE EXTRA FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

    November 30, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. T'sah from Virginia

    @King – I agree, there is enough infrastructures in our country that needs to be FIXED. Use the money to CREATE jobs and hire SMALL BUSINESSES to do so!! SLAP big corporations in the FACE and let them use their TRILLIONS for toilet paper.

    I don't believe the big corps are UNSURE about the future in taxes, which is the reason why they are not hiring!! All they need to do is BANK on the fact that TAX CUTS are ending. They will still have BILLIONS/TRILLIONS left to create JOBS and they know it!!!

    The RepubliCAN’Ts want you to believe that there is "uncertainty". There’s NO uncertainty!!! The ONLY uncertainty I see is EXTENDING the Tax Cuts and NOT KNOWING when that EXTENSION is going to END…… PERIOD!!

    Please President Obama – Do not fall prey to the RIGHT!!! They will use it against you and they already started!!!

    November 30, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. bailoutsos

    Divided? Stop the wars and bring American troops home. Build a strong America and quit bleeding jobs overseas.

    November 30, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. Andrew

    Everybody wants somebody else to sacrifice. Why not view this as a War Against the Debt? Then we can unite to defeat a common enemy. Guess I must be pipe dreaming ...

    November 30, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. kyle

    End the Bush tax cuts, the tax cuts do not create jobs in America, maybe overseas, but not in America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 30, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  23. hap

    Barry is on the right track. There's plenty of things that can be done without giving up the benefits government provides to the people who carry the burden, the middle class. Defense cuts are necessary and can be accomplished without any risks by closing 500 of the 673 bases in overseas, reopen some bases here to create jobs and generate tax revenue. Increase tariffs on cheap labor countries to level the playing field. More jobs, more taxes.

    November 30, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  24. Forrest

    How about cutting our 40 BILLION dollar a year failed War on Drugs for a start? I mean, statistics show that drugs are cheaper, easier to get, and more potent than when it started. Yet we still spend 40 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR on it. Why?

    November 30, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. Mountaineer

    One sure way to cut the deficit if the Republican Party is interested is to forego the Bush Tax cuts on the wealthy that have drained this country for 10 years! Second, place tariffs on goods entering this country that are made in China, India, and not manufactured in the States! Third, go after China for currency manipulation, and Fourth, discuss Jan Schakowsky's plan to cut the deficit and others beside the Wall Street cronies who tanked this country! Send Wall Street CEO's to prison!

    November 30, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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