If the American people are presented with the areas of discretionary spending in the
A new poll finds that the American public would significantly alter the Bush administration’s recently proposed federal budget. Presented a breakdown of the major areas of the proposed discretionary budget and given the opportunity to redistribute it, respondents made major changes.
The most dramatic changes were deep cuts in defense spending, a significant reallocation toward deficit reduction, and increases in spending on education, job training, reducing reliance on oil, and veterans. These changes were favored by both Republicans and Democrats, though the changes were generally greater for Democrats. (link)
Although the study was conducted in March 2005 (full report here), given the emphasis in the poll results on deep cuts in defense spending, it’s likely that, if anything, more Americans would agree with the poll results now given that support for Bush’s war falls noticeably month after month.
The poll results would be startling in some circles. For example, most Americans disagree with the Republican Party’s “borrow and spend” (aka “borrow and subsidize the rich”) approach to the budget. Instead, they believe that the
Sixty-one percent of respondents redirected some funds to reducing the budget deficit, with the mean respondent reallocating $36 billion (Democrats $39.4 billion, Republicans $29.6 billion), though they were not told anything about the size of the deficit. (link)
The American people also know who gets most of the economic benefit from the federal government’s budgetary policies and they know how to redress it: “Besides reallocating funds to deficit reduction, a clear majority (63%) favored rolling back the tax cuts for people with incomes over $200,000.”
Unlike their representatives in
Defense spending received the deepest cut, being cut on average 31%—equivalent to $133.8 billion—with 65% of respondents cutting. The second largest area to be cut was the supplemental for
As the defense cuts proposed were large, respondents were asked in a separate set of questions what areas they would want to cut. Majorities favored cutting the capability for large-scale nuclear wars, the number of nuclear weapons, and spending on developing new types of nuclear weapons. (Asked how many nuclear weapons the
When asked how the
In percentage terms, by far the largest increase was for conserving and developing renewable energy - an extraordinary 1090% or $24 billion—which also had the highest percentage of respondents (70%) favoring an increase. The environment and natural resources received a more modest increase of 32% or $9 billion, with 42% of respondents favoring increases.
Although most Americans sensibly believe that other usual “untouchable” programs should be scaled back significantly (transportation, space research and science, federal administration of justice), they believe that budget allotments should be increased in some areas—areas that show the majority of Americans hold progressive values:
The largest increases were for social spending. Spending on human capital was especially popular including education which was increased $26.8 billion (39%) and job training and employment which was up $19 billion or a remarkable 263%. Medical research was upped on average $15.5 billion (53%). Veterans benefits were raised 40% or $12.5 billion and housing went up 31% or $9.3 billion. In most cases clear majorities favored increases (education 57%, job training 67%, medical research 57%, veteran’s benefits 63%), though only 43% of respondents favored increases for housing.
It should not be surprising that the very views the American people actually hold should be propagandized as radical and unacceptable since they are sensible and do not allow for significant wealth accumulation into a few hands. That these views are not represented as the “mainstream” should indicate how vested interest distorts the real values of the American people in the corporate media and the federal government.