CNN Poll:  Deficit reduction should not be government's main goal
December 27th, 2010
04:45 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Deficit reduction should not be government's main goal

Washington (CNN) - How important is the federal deficit?

According to a new national poll, it's very important in the minds of most Americans. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday also indicates that only one in five believe that deficit reduction should be the main goal of government today.

Sixty-eight percent of people questioned in the poll say they personally worry a lot about the size of the federal deficit, with one in four saying they only worry about it a little and seven percent say they don't worry at all about the federal deficit.

The poll also indicates that nearly eight in ten say earmarks are unacceptable, with just 19 percent of the public saying that earmarks, which are practice of many members of Congress of adding to bills spending project provisions for their home districts or states, are acceptable. Opposition to earmarks earlier this month helped sink a push by Senate Democrats to pass a budget that included billions of dollars in the provisions.

"The concerns over the deficit and the opposition to earmarks helps explain why nearly half say that reducing the deficit is very important," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But only 22 percent say that deficit reduction should be the government's main goal."

While CNN poll numbers released last week indicate that 57 percent opposed an increase in the deficit to pay for tax changes and unemployment benefits, which were part of a tax cut compromise between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans that was passed into law, a CNN survey from November showed that holding the line on Social Security, Medicare, and taxes were more important to most Americans than deficit reduction.

"That may mean that reducing the deficit may be a hard sell when it comes at the cost of higher taxes or reductions in government programs," adds Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 17-19, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: CNN poll • Deficit • Polls
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. John G

    Of course it shouldn't be. It's not like they could ever do anything about it anyways. Dismiss it that it shouldn't be done (aka ignore it) It'll go away all on it's own.

    December 27, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Monster Zero

    If any of those one in five have been watching ANY of the economic reporting channels, the deficit poses the greatest threat to our Nation. I do not think may here remember Jimmy Carter inflation, National bankruptcy anyone? What happens when our Federal government can no longer meet its entitlement obligations, anyone recall the Russia meltdown during Reagan's years? This poll just goes to show how disconnected our society has become as to the function of the people they elect to represent them.

    December 27, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The number one priority in America, is jobs.......and Team Obama is failing miserably at making any impact on job creation.

    December 27, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Mike Yo

    "Holding the line" on medicare and social security is NOT an option without raising taxes significantly. Something has to give and it is not going to be my wallet.

    December 27, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    Get the economy moving and growing again and then the deficit reduction is much easier to do. The government makes more money that way on taxing the larger number of transactions and business activity and also reduces spending through lower unemployment costs among other things.

    But the government already did one of the most important things it has in its capability to get the economy moving again by extending the tax cuts. It's other major contributions can be through Trade deals and tarrifs.

    December 27, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Albo58

    Perhaps a reduction in SPENDING will get our deficit down AND help the economy!

    December 27, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Name king

    The budget is important but jobs are the main project on the president plate right now. We need to understand that when money goes up to the rich, the money gets lost into the shuffle. When money goes to the middle class and poor, who are the customers in the economy. That's where demand is created and with demands you need help attending to the customers, that means jobs, the repugs want to cut the middle class and poor demand money, how will our local businesses survive and hire, we need the spenders to spend and creat demand and jobs.

    December 27, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    If you want to fill the federal coffers, take the max tax rate back up to what it was under Reagan: 39%.

    Make Social Security even more solvent than it is by removing the taxable income max for FICA of $106,000.

    Pass trade laws that encourage people to buy what we produce here.

    Reward companies for keeping jobs here and penalize those who ship jobs overseas.

    Eliminate wasteful spending; for example, eliminate redundant weapons systems that our own military says we don't need.

    Get rid of true pork, such as "Bridge to Nowhere" projects.

    Just a couple common sense items ...

    December 27, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Rick McDaniel: There is only so much the President can do. American businesses are sitting on $2 TRILLION in cash – where's your call to them to use some of that to invest and hire people here?

    December 27, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Sylvia R

    Suzanne Malveaux interviewed Bill Bennett on the reducing the budget deficit. It was sad to see her not address the main point of Bennett's outdated recommendations. He suggested going back to budget levels under George W. Bush which did not count the huge cost of the war in the budget. Therefore, it is completely unrealistic to use this as a benchmark of cost control. Yet, Susanne let him get away with this total misrepresentation without even challenging the misfacts. It is ashame to see out news people feeding into this type misleading talk.

    December 27, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. amlcpa

    I can't believe how many silly people think that just a reduction is government spending will boost the economy. It's a fragile economy due to jobs lost to overseas economies, not due to public spending, dolts. The politicians feed you the pablum and you vote vote vote for anybody who gives you the "line" that they'll cut spending and reduce your taxes. Then, of course, they continue the massive price supports for agribusiness and fund massive, needless defense contracts for retired military and useless weapons. Oh, and if you confront them they'll rile you up with terrorists and wars so they can keep you safe. The truth is that a soft economy takes much time to recover, that job creation HERE is essential, and that boosted education, R&D and tech investment can make us competitive again in the world market. But just cutting spending and concentrating only on the deficit will throw more existing jobs away in the short run. The simple answer is to be cautious about any politician who promises results within 2 years and FORCE the pols to divulge the SPECIFIC programs they're cutting and the SPECIFIC programs they're continuing to fund. They're very good at riling you up without any details, eh?

    December 27, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. Rick

    Under Bill Clinton, we balanced the budget by increasing taxes on the wealthy and cutting military spending. The economy boomed.

    December 27, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    @ Name King...Did you know that people who make more than $250,000 a year account for 30% of consumer spending and that consumer spending is only 60% of our nation's economic activity? But that all really doesn't matter because the Republicans fought for tax cuts for everyone, not just the upper bracket. And they won for everyone, not just the upper bracket. ( Lost into the shuffle?!?! I must have missed that economics lecture... )

    December 27, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  14. jonny

    NOW, they're saying this?
    dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    December 27, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. Mark

    Well considering that CNN mocks any attempt to deal with our bankrupt gov't and too many sheep follow is there really any point?

    December 27, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  16. walter

    THE ORIGINATORS OF THE FLIP FLOP, CAUGHT RED HANDED. After 8 years of failed economic policy by the Bush admin. the deficit is in disrepair, As a result the party that created the mess (republicans) have re-branded themselves as budget watchdogs? WHAT A JOKE, A FLIP FLOP like no other. THE SWIFTBOAT bandits strike again and the fickle American public is left holding the bag. How quick the pendulum swings.

    December 27, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  17. Megan

    I agree that the country's deficit is not the most important. The fact of the matter is if we paid back all the money we owed and then tried to recover our economy the rest of the world's economy's would back lash. Also do not blame Obama for the nation's deficit, it's congress who has the power to borrow money . Also about every 20years the nation has a slump in its economy and during that period when a new president is elected the president is the one who gets blamed when it was never his fault in the first place.

    December 27, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. GOP = Greed Over People

    It was apparent the American people were more concerned with tax cuts(which do NOT create jobs or we would be at full employment after 10 years of them) than they were with nearly the 1 trillion dollars the cuts will add to the nation debt.

    Raising income is the only way to lower deficit in economic times when all services are being strained. People bought into that bourbon brain-soaked Yalie cheerleader's version of "trickle down" economics by cutting income AND starting two wars that were not paid for except by the soldiers fighting them.

    Ooops, I forgot all those one dollar yellow ribbons all you Cons attached to your cars to indicate "support".

    So now it is past time for all of us to pony up, not just the troops, even if that means my tax rate goes from 10 to 15%.

    Pay now or pay later, but later is going to hurt a LOT more.

    December 27, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |