What Would You Do if You Were A Member of Congress Facing this Situation?

Take a deep cleansing breath before looking at this just-released poll from the Economist/YouGov and ask yourself what you would do if you were a member of Congress facing this situation.

In question 23, almost two-thirds — 62 pecent — of those responding said that they wanted to cut spending to reduce the budget deficit rather than raise taxes.

But just three questions later, the only area of federal spending that a majority — 71 percent — was willing to cut was foreign aid. More than 70 percent were against cutting every other of the areas mentioned and more than 80 percent were against cutting 9 of them. Reductions in the 2 programs where cuts could have the largest impact on the federal government’s bottom line — Social Security and Medicare — were only supported by 7 percent of those responding and, therefore, were opposed by 93 percent.

(Note: Before you send a nasty note, I’m not suggesting that Social Security and Medicare be cut, only that, mathematically, doing so would have the largest effect on the deficit).

Here’s the question and responses:

26. If government spending is reduced in order to balance the budget, which of the following government programs should receive lower federal funding than they currently do? (Please check all that apply.)


Social Security … 7% MassTransit … 27%
National Defense …  22% Foreign Aid … 71%
Medicare … 7% Unemployment benefits … 19%
Aid to the Poor … 17% Science and Technology … 22%
Medicaid … 11% Agriculture … 27%
Veterans’ Benefits … 6% Housing … 27%
Health research … 13% The Environment … 29%
Education … 12% None of the above … 12%
Highways … 12%


There’s nothing new about this situation, of course, Bruce reported remarkably similar results last December and it’s long been the case that the typical voter wants the deficit reduced without cutting spending or increasing taxes. This latest poll shows that even the higher deficits of the past few years, which almost 60 percent of those responding said would be of great or some importance to them when they voted, hasn’t changed the situation at all.

About Stan Collender 126 Articles

Affiliation: Qorvis Communications

Stan Collender is a former New Yorker who, after getting a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, moved to Washington to get it out of his system. That was more than 30 years ago.

During most of his career, Collender has worked on the federal budget and congressional budget process, including stints on the staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees; founding the Federal Budget Report, a newsletter that was published for almost two decades; and for the past 11 years writing a weekly column for NationalJournal.com and now RollCall.com.

He is currently a managing director for Qorvis Communications, where he spends most of his time working with and for financial services clients.

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