americans want imaginary spending cuts.

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Free Thinker, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. Congress looks for ways to trim the federal budget, they might want to be careful of how closely they listen to their constituents. That's because several polls have shown that Americans are typically terrible estimators of how much money the U.S. spends on particular areas of the budget -- suggesting that public opinion about potential cuts is often influenced by gross misconceptions.

    Reining in government spending and reducing the deficit were central to the Republican Party's platform in last year's midterm elections, when the GOP reclaimed control of the House. Amid a sluggish economy and a ballooning deficit, polls have consistently found that overwhelming majorities of Americans agree with the idea of paring down federal spending; a CNN poll in January found 71% of Americans supported the idea trimming the federal budget.

    Yet when it comes time to get specific, the cuts that Americans are by and large in agreement on don't add up to much. While they want Congress to drastically reduce spending overall, they overwhelmingly oppose doing so by scaling back some of the budget's biggest pieces.

    Essentially, Americans want to have their budget cake and eat it too.

    For instance, foreign aid is one of the only areas that most Americans are willing to squeeze for savings.

    In a recentGallup poll, foreign aid was the only piece of the budget where a clear majority of Americans supported budget cuts. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they favored cuts to foreign aid, versus 37% who opposed such cuts. At the same time, over half of respondents opposed trimming any of the eight other budget items presented in the survey -- including Social Security, education, and defense.

    A January CNN poll found the same result, with 81% of Americans supporting cuts to foreign aid, while opposing, by around the same margin, cuts to Social Security and Medicare (which alone comprise roughly one third of the overall budget).

    So how much money do Americans think could be slashed from international aid?

    In a World Public Opinion poll conducted last November, respondents guessed, on average, that foreign aid spending represented 27% of the federal budget. To trim spending, the same respondents suggested that, on average, foreign should make up a slimmer 13% of the total budget, surely delivering massive savings.

    The problem? Foreign aid is actually a minuscule 1% of the total budget. Even eliminating it altogether would do little to balance the budget or reduce the deficit.

    This same sticking point -- Americans' misconceptions of actual spending levels -- seems to work the other way around when it comes to the military. When it comes to defense spending, Americans generally oppose cuts and wildly underestimating how much is already being spent.

    In the previously-cited Gallup poll, nearly six in ten respondents opposed cutting defense spending. Meanwhile, a Rasmussen poll released last week found that 37% of Americans thought defense outlays were fine at their current levels, while 32% thought defense spending was too high, and 27% thought it was too low.

    Yet the Rasmussen survey also asked this question:

    To ensure its safety, should the United States always spend at least three times as much on defense as any other nation?Only 25% of respondents agreed with that statement, compared to 40% who disagreed.

    In reality, though, the U.S. spends more than that -- much, much more.

    Total defense spending for 2011 is estimated at $719 billion, seven times higher than the approximately $100 billion in annual military expenditures by the next highest spender, China.

    In effect, that meant that the poll's participants contradicted themselves in the span of a few questions, both opposing cuts to defense spending, while also -- unknowingly -- saying the U.S. already spends too much on its military.

    This all suggests that though Americans are eager to have the government roll back spending, they don't have a plan for doing it -- and when they do offer cuts, they overestimate the impact that those cuts will have. If Congress really does attempt to pare down spending, they'll be walking a politically perilous tightrope, forced to balance calls for a slimmer budget with opposition to all but the teeniest of cuts.
  2. Cutting the budget is very easy.
    The latest proposal is bring spending to 2008 levels, very easy.
    Back in Bob Dole's and George HW Bush's time, Dole recommended freezing spending.
    The above two are the most indiscriminate way of cutting spending, but our government has no balls. [​IMG]
  3. Tsing Tao

    Tsing Tao

    i'm sorry but the op is a bunch of horseshit (surprise).

    there are tons of places to cut the fat. tons of committees and departments to find it. our government just doesnt want to do it.

    they know that if the spending is turned off, and the fed is turned off, the shit hits the fan and the facade over the economy right now puffs away like a fart in the wind.
  4. let me rephrase it so even you can understand. americans want spending cuts if its someone elses program that gets cut. they will not allow their favorite subsidy to be cut. their represenative in congress will fight to make sure their favorite program is not cut. multiply that scenario by 435 times and you fail to get meaningful cuts in anything.
  5. Revamp the entire military to combat the 21st century problems. It will save trillions.

    Close the borders to make legal immigration a working method of increasing American citizens who pay taxes, etc.

    Single payer health care will save trillions.

    Regulate the FDA so that food producers stop poisoning our food that leads to disease.

    Energy independence as the number one goal of all Americans.

    Cut waste in government wherever possible, cut vacation days and benefits for senators and congressmen.

    Increase taxes for the wealthy, better yet, flat tax rate with no loopholes.

    Cut subsidies for the farmers.

    There are so many ways to save money and increase revenue.

    Increase corporate tax for earnings offshore through the employment of slave wage labor in third world countries.
  6. Lucrum



    Unfortunately this is also true.

    Which if this country is to be saved from going the way of all other previous great empires we desperately need:

    1) Congressional term limits. I believe this would largely eliminate the tax payer funded bribes for tax payer votes since getting re-elected is no longer even an option let alone a concern for congressmen.

    - OR -

    2) Minimum qualifications for voters. Either you own land, pay taxes or are capable of passing a simple civics/economics test or you don't fucking vote period.
  7. Ricter


    I'm surprised you have fallen for the flat tax idea. So, what do you want, a flat tax, higher taxes on the rich, or both? If the tax rate on the rich was, say, 30%, do you suggest we tax the poor that 30% as well? Or will the progressive taxation system we have now simply be replaced, to "make it fit" with a flat tax, with subsidies for the poor that will in the end achieve the same thing, ie. higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes on the poor?
  8. OK, since there is broad agreement on cutting foreign aid, why don't we cut it drastically? I don't care if it is a small percentage. The money is largely wasted anyway. We have to start somewhere, and if we can't cut a small program that is largely used to enrich third world elites, how can we ever cut anything?

    Optional is right, there are trillions that can be cut rather easily, starting with defense. Move on to the things the federal government shouldn't be involved in anyway, like the Departments of Education, Commerce, HUD, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, drastically scale back Departments of Labor and Agriculture, cut ag subsidies, privitize FNM and FRE, the list goes on forever.

    People don't want medicare and social security cut and I don't blame them. They were deluded into believing they were paying taxes to support their own benefits when they got old. Now the pols want to start taking that away so they can redirect the money to their own favored constituencies? No friggin way.

    Any changes to these programs should have very long lead times, so that taxpayers' legitimate expectations are not undermined. That includes a favorite of pols, making them means tested. If you are going to do that, then it is only fair to give people the right to opt out or to have a private option.

    Raising taxes to supposedly cut the deficit is the one idea I hope every republican will oppose, and i hope taxpayers will see how wrong-headed it is. The only way to justify a tax increase of any kind is if every possible cut has been made in spending.
  9. Ricter


    All you have done here is identify what programs you support and which ones you don't. Everyone has an opinion on that. The significant point here is [that] what everyone wants is neither right nor wrong, but contradictory.
  10. Did you write this? If not, please provide a link.
    #10     Feb 8, 2011