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Just 41% of Americans favor cuts to defense spending, poll finds

By David Edwards
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 14:37 EDT
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With all the talk about spending cuts, it may come as a shock that less Americans favor cuts now than in 1980.

In fact, a recent Harris poll found that in only one category had cuts become more popular: defense spending.

The survey measured Americans’ tolerance for spending cuts in 20 areas. A majority approved of cuts in only six of those areas.

Foreign economic aid topped the list at 75 percent, followed by foreign military aid, spending by regulatory agencies and space programs. A majority also favored cutting subsidies to business and federal welfare spending.

At 11 percent, Social Security payments was the least popular item to cut. Only 24 percent were in favor of cutting health care. Cutting federal aid to education, revenue sharing with states and cities, federal highway financing and federal jobs programs were also unpopular.

On average, cutting spending programs was almost 15 points less popular than compared with the same survey in 1980. Defense spending was the only area that more Americans said they wanted to cut.

President Barack Obama’s Republican foes in the US Congress have slammed his 2012 budget as failing to slash spending deeply enough as they pressed for approving a far-reaching package of painful cuts.

“We need a government that finally does what every other American has to do in their households and their businesses, and that’s to live within our means,” House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement.

“Instead, President Obama’s budget doubles down on the bad habits of the past four years by calling for more taxes, spending and borrowing of money that we simply do not have,” said Cantor.

The document — essentially a non-binding plan laying out Obama’s priorities and vision for the United States ahead of his reelection bid next year — predicted a record $1.65-trillion budget deficit for 2011.

The plan envisions cutting that shortfall by more than one trillion dollars over the next 10 years, predicts a sharp drop in unemployment to 8.6 percent from the current 9.3 percent, and forecasts 3.6-percent growth.

But that last figure was much higher than expected by the International Monetary Fund, drawing charges it was overly rosy, and Republicans seized on the blueprint’s expectations that the national debt will soar by several trillion dollars over the next decade.

“I still don’t see a sense of urgency from the president about the massive federal debt. His budget calls for too much government borrowing — even though the debt is already at a level that makes it harder to create private-sector jobs,” said senior Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.

Republicans also complained that the measure did not lay out an aggressive plan for reining in so-called “entitlement” spending — notably on the Medicare health program for the elderly — that threatens to widen the US fiscal chasm.

Cantor said a new approach is needed if the budget tackles these entitlement programs such as Social Security retirement and Medicare.

“We’re serious in trying to change the culture here and actually begin to reduce the spending in Washington,” he said.

####

CUTTING SPECIFIC GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS – TREND

“Below is a list of different areas of federal government spending. For each, please indicate if you would favor a major cut in spending, a minor cut, no cut at all, or would you increase spending in this area?”

Summary of those saying “favor a major cut” or “favor a minor cut”

Base: All Adults

 

Favor Cut (NET)

Change 1980-2011

1980

2008

2011

 

%

%

%

%

Foreign economic aid

82

74

75

-7

Foreign military aid

77

69

69

-8

Spending by the regulatory agencies generally

72

53

56

-16

Space programs

66

49

54

-12

Subsidies to business

69

62

51

-18

Federal welfare spending

69

52

51

-18

Federally funded scientific research programs

51

35

42

-9

Farm subsidies

53

44

42

-11

Defense spending

34

35

41

7

Federal housing programs

54

39

41

-13

The food stamp program

65

43

40

-25

Pollution control

49

22

37

-12

Spending for mass transportation

42

28

35

-7

Federal aid to cities

58

33

34

-24

Federal jobs programs

57

34

33

-24

Federal highway financing

59

24

31

-28

Revenue sharing with states and cities

53

30

28

-25

Health care

37

12

24

-13

Federal aid to education

37

17

21

-16

Social security payments

23

8

11

-12

— with AFP

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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  • Anonymous

    One word for this “poll”. Bullsheet! They must’ve polled employees of Raytheon. Just absurd on it’s face. The neocon/republican controlled media will spin any which way they can to keep their gravy train rolling. Disgusting.

  • WitsEnd66

    Sure, 1980 was before Bush and Cheney and their administration scared the living pi$$ out of people after 911. We need all the aircraft carrier and nukes to fight Osama bin Laden, even if we can’t find him. The Republicans love to scare people, if it isn’t the “Islamic radicals”, it’s death panels, homosexuals, etc, etc. America needs to quit watching poisonous Faux News, Flushbaugh, Hannity, Over the Shark Beck and the rest of paid lunatics. Thos people are getting rich scaring the hell out of you and laughing all the way to their foreign bank accounts.

  • Anonymous

    Proof that we live in a nation of idiots. And Obama continues the pseudomocracy. Want to solve problems in the US, extend unemployment, provide health care? Then cut these military excursions into sovereign countries. And some of that money is being used to bribe people in those countries with money, jobs and … free health care! Feel betrayed yet? Time for action.

  • Anonymous

    I find this very hard to believe.

  • http://twitter.com/mujaku mujaku

    Why not ask the American people if they want waste and fraud in the military cut out? In 2003 the Pentagon lost 2.3 trillion bucks. Not bad for the world’s biggest heist.

  • Anonymous

    Or GE, Boeing or Pratt & Whitney.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FPBFO6RC5R2HHIP3VXSFU2RZQA mjj

    How many people here realize that the military is the largest single user of oil in the US?

  • Anonymous

    For many , if not most polls are only accurate when they agree with the results. So depending on where you stand on the issues this poll will seem biased to the left or to the right, because some people can’t accept the fact that the American people might think differently from them.

  • Mein Furor

    ‘Defense Spending’ is a misnomer, just like the Patriot Act. These programs are made to sound more palatable than what they actually represent. If we used names that reflected what these programs actually do, they would not have the same level of public support and our country would be better off for it.

  • Anonymous

    Dumbing down of America. Top 4, create jobs and they’re not cash.
    People need to stop watching fox.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FPBFO6RC5R2HHIP3VXSFU2RZQA mjj

    The pentagon is asking for a budget that the US will spend 300 million dollars PER DAY in Afganistan and Iraq and still no end in sight. These wars are bankrupting us! This is exactly what Bin Laden had in mind to defeat us and he is succeeding.

  • Anonymous

    This poll, if the numbers are anywhere close to accurate, is frightening.

    Just think, if we can ALL end up working for the military directly, or a contractor, or a DHS connected security corporation, then all of us will get some of that military pie!

    Kill, kill, kill! More, more, more!!!!! Faster, faster, faster!!!!!

    (please don’t miss the sarcasm)

  • Anonymous

    Ha ha, you meant to say, what Dick Cheney had in mind, and his ilk.

  • Anonymous

    STUPID scared pathetic Americans.
    So easily manipulated.

    Americans love working 50 weeks a year, 40+ hours a week, just so we can have high defense spending.

    I hope terrorists strike the MOST SCARED Americans FIRST. And i’ll be HAPPY to watch.

  • kiboshki

    Not really. Political polls are mainly accurate only in showing a particular statistic/agenda that the creator of the poll wants to show. For example, had this poll referred to “War Spending” rather than “Defense Spending” the result would have been different. Wording matters; this is a demonstrated fact of human psychology.

    And so effetively, whether one agrees with the results of this poll is completely irrelevant, because next month a poll will come out showing the opposite of what this one says. In other words, polls on certain issues (emotional and political one, especially) are unreliable propaganda tools, nothing more.

  • Anonymous

    This is what we are up against. Not the Dems, not the Republicans but our fellow Americans.

  • Anonymous

    That is because they think what they hear and what they hear is that China is getting closer anbd then this thing with Muslims, well the reality are in the numbers because they don’t lie. Our defense budget is 15 times bigger thatn China, to make an analogy better place a 2 story building next to the John Hancok and our pie chart will be the big one …imagine our is the biggest defense budget in the planet aroung 4.5% GDP,Nato is 2.3%,Russia 2.3%, it is huge!!!. That doesn’t even count the foreign aid money we give to align our strategic goals and is basically related to our defense like sending 1.2 billion in aid to Egypt military, Pakistan, Afghanistan,Israel and many others. So the point is once the public is aware of how disgusting is the throw away spending we do around the world with their money they will realize how repugnant is the idea to layoff our citizens to give money to countries that have dictators and their citizens despise us. The defense industries are very eloquent in selling these with air shows, programs that show aircraft carriers and the need to be “better” prepare. To what? if the balloon goes up at this stage be prepare for nuclear war not to merely invade a country….so who thinks we will win a conflict with China or Russia?. Remembe…tanks don’t win battles against terrorist. Ideas does.

  • Anonymous

    Lets start by looking where the money sent to Irak and Afghanistan went??????? corruption and money give aways….you don’t buy allegiance period. Want to become a stronger nation….close the defense waste and redirect those funds to subsidize new industries that provide jobs like China does, that’s right…their government subsidize many industries to put people to work and move the economy.

  • Anonymous

    Assuming there is some validity to this poll, which I doubt, only one conclusion can be deduced…people are really F***ing stupid up in Amerika. The reality is that the wars and the war machine are being funded by deficient spending and “paid” for by the endless printing of bum wad currency by the Federal Reserve. Some glorious day the bill will come due and red blooded Americans eating canned beans heated over Sterno will endlessly debate the question “Whither The Republic?”.

  • Anonymous

    Our bigger problem is that we are taking our eyes off Mexico and by not taking care of that situation and help them deal with narcs pretty soon their war will spill over here….so keep sending money to Afghanistan that one day Mexico will fall and many will be surprised….

  • Don Corleone

    Bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    interesting, only 41%, but the percentage went UP….

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, … RIIIIIIGHT!

    Can we get anything that isn’t corrupted or twisted. I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe that people would rather give up their un-employment, SSI, Medicare, just so we DON”T have to cut the defense budget!

    I think I would rather live in Egypt at this point of US history!

  • Anonymous

    Dwight D Eisenhower :

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

  • Jaimie11

    What if the categories were broken down – what would that show? A couple of examples:

    Federally funded scientific research programs
    1. Frankenfoods, Monsanto, how to kill masses of people at one time
    2. Cures for disease and lowering limits for chemical pollution

    Farm Subsidies
    1. Big Agra and cruelty to food animals/putting small farmers out of business
    2 Small farmers using sustainable farming methods and humane treatment of animals

    And what if the poll respondents knew how money came into being, and the implications of all spending
    creating debt for which interest must be paid thereby adding to the true costs of all these programs?

    What’s the use of a poll when it’s based in a lie for the purpose of perpetuating the lie?

  • Anonymous

    It always depends on how you frame the issue. Asking people about “defense” is different than asking about “unnecessary wars of aggression to enrich the military-industrial complex”.

    Bottom line: you ask a biased question, you get biased answers. “Defense” is not a neutral description of what our military establishment is doing. The term is loaded at best.

    Furthermore, people generally have no clue just how much is being spent already on all of these items in that list. People tend to wildly underestimate so-called defense spending. They’re clueless that it’s more than 50% of the entire discretionary budget. They tend to overestimate other items such as foreign aid greatly. If you asked the people who think foreign economic aid should be cut how much of a percentage we SHOULD spend on it, many will cite a figure that’s greater than what we currently spending.

    You want a real poll, give people a pie chart that illustrates existing percentages.

    Show them how so-called defense spending is already more than half the entire discretionary budget.

    Show them how that spending on most domestic items is already infinitesimal.

    Show them a chart like this.

    http://www.icpj.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/04/spending_2005_half.gif

    AND THEN ASK THE QUESTIONS AGAIN.

  • Jaimie11

    Didn’t Rumsfeld announce that loss on September 10, 2001? I think that was part of the money Dov Zackheim got hold of during his term as comptroller for the Pentagon, used to design the remote control part of the WTC false flag operation while he was CEO of System Planning Corporation. After that Zackheim managed to ‘lose’ another trillion. He is thought to have given Israel its military weapons.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4GdHLUHwU

    http://911review.org/brad.com/batcave/Dov_Zakheim_911.html

    http://open.salon.com/blog/gordon_wagner/2010/07/19/dov_zakheim_retires_from_booz_allen_hamilton

    Zackheim had a role in influencing foreign policy from Reagan through to Bush,Jr., and Obama, as we see now.

    http://www.onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_1047.shtml

    If you care for Zackheim’s take on the Egyptian Revolution and other ME concerns, this will give you an idea of the let down that awaits those young and hopeful victorious.

    http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/blog/2200

  • Mr. Neutron

    What percentage of Americans favor cuts to offense spending ?

  • Guest

    Also proof that the fear-mongers have done their jobs.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe this poll. Polls are things that can be manipulated to say what they pollster wants them to say. Not even 2 weeks ago I saw a report of a poll that stated 64 percent of americans are opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both these polls cannot be correct.

  • Mr. Neutron

    That quote is from a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953, right after he became President (Ike was President from January 20 1953 to January 20 1961).

    It shows how far off the deep end the Republican party has drifted to the right…

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame the democrats haven’t been able to use “reverse phraseology” to their advantage like the repubs have. Pretty much everything the Rs say is the exact opposite of what is.

  • Anonymous

    Precisely. How the question is framed matters. “Defense” is not a neutral description. The term is positively Orwellian.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t that what they call “the same difference”?

  • Anonymous

    But they are, because idiot Americans think that “defense” refers to the legitimate defensive needs of this country, whereas it’s actually a code word for the waging of imperial wars of aggression and occupation in perpetuity.

  • Anonymous

    Why did nobody listen to him?

  • Anonymous

    Well this is what years of being propagandised by the Neocons at Fox, and the hours of Rush listening on hate radio have done, to the already fat and stupid American people.

  • Guest

    “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” -Hermann Goering, Nazi Reichmarshall

    …. and the money all goes into the pockets of the lying fascists. Unfortunatey, most americans are like hurd animals blindly following the sound of a cow bell, and then they complain about paying taxes. “Dumb and dumber”

  • Anonymous

    And the propaganda artists. With Orwellian precision, they have the citizens believing that offence is defense.

  • Anonymous

    “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

    -Hermann Goering, 1946

    Another False Flag and General Betrayus will “win” the presidency with the same Margin this Poll Had and Perhaps even Higher.

    Then we will know what the “PATROT ACT” means. Those Cowards congress people will be the first to Get Fired.

    *Adolf Hitlers Party Victory Speech*

    ” I Eradicated the Marxist Party, but my friends I also eradicated ALL OTHER PARTIES!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZQ4yQDIf5k&NR=1

    Those who don’t learn from the past……

  • Anonymous

    That’ll teach me to read these things before I post…

  • Anonymous

    Defense spending makes up 20% of the Federal Budget. We spend more on defense then the rest of the world combined. Cutting the defense budget in half would reduce the budget by 10%.

    Get with it people!

  • cannotvote

    Bull crap – America is lost – period

  • Anonymous

    Indeed!

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    And we award multi-billion dollar no bid contracts to the like of Blackwater & Halliburton to commit atrocities in the name of the American people. Insanity and criminality all in one. It is no wonder that many people in the world cheered the destruction of the WTC on 9/11.

  • Anonymous

    It’s like living in Dumbfuckistan. We’ll all have to work until we’re 80 to pay for fighter jets we’ll never use.

    We should put the Tea Baggers to work in the mines. Show them what “labor” is.

    Assholes.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! A whole 41%? Impressive! I would have thought that it was only 25% or so. But either way, that means that the wars must go on. Since we have now spread demokracy to the Middle East, we can’t invade there, right? Well, actually, there is still Iran and we must regain Egypt so that our Zionist rottweiler can be assured there won’t be any retaliation when they get bullied. See, the bad thing about being an empire is that, after a while, you’ve already invaded everybody and you have to recycle and do it all over again. Right about now, Asia is looking good. I’d say. So, maybe we should consider Korea and since Viet Nam has managed to recuperate from the last pounding, maybe we should consider them too.

  • Anonymous

    Why was there no entry for Cutting welfare for corporations which is 3 to 1 of that giving to the citizens.
    Corporate welfare costs us 3+ times more than welfare for the poor.
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×9297759

    Why was there no entry for cutting the Government contracts for foreign War contractors, like Blackwater and Halliburton..
    Halliburton’s contemptuous move overseas
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=103×269308

  • hourglass1

    20%? have a look at the federal pie as it relates to money spent …
    http://dailycensored.com/2010/03/30/there-is-a-thing-about-opinions/

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely. They should have an entry for “defense spending” and a separate entry for “imperialist offensive corporate warmongering”, and see how that breaks down.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I could believe you are correct, but Americans have a long history of cowardice when threatened with imaginary boogeymen.

  • dula

    In comparison to domestic cutting, Americans want defense spending cut the most. But if correct, this poll just confirms that US peasants are the biggest chumps on the planet.

  • dula

    Well, at least a higher % of the US peasantry prefer spending cuts to defense over domestic programs. They are slowly waking up, but still are the biggest bunch of chumps on the planet.

  • Anonymous

    Since all polls show 60 – 70% of the populace want to end the war in Afghanastan, why would they vote to continue the madness through funding? Simply ridiculous.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed!

    There is not “Defense” cuts till 2014!

    Defending Defense?

    “Despite Spending more money on defense than the rest of the world combines, the US military budget appears untouchable as it continues to GROW and receive government support. Those fighting hardest for the budget are supported by companies that provide goods and services for the military.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urelY8BewPM

  • Jaimie11

    The way I see it, the other parties have already been eliminated. Most of those congress people, the majority, push the agenda of the War Party anyway. What other party is there?

  • kiboshki

    This is exactly right. Frankly, the absolute best way to do a poll like this is to not show the respondents the pie chart, but make them actually draw it themselves.

    “Here’s your limited budget. Show us how you’d split it up among these government programs.”

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/IVNYOXMDCONAQJ35E4MRRD533A identalias

    Defense spending is the only category that has a positive change in the percentage of polled people wanting cuts to that category when compared to the results from 1980.

    US people are more in favor of government spending for every other category except defense spending.

  • Ma’at

    Old white male can’t die fast enough.

    The U.S. is really no longer competitive. It is a Nation for the stupid. Further, the rest of the world continues to marginalize us like the little dog we are. Next … and soon … everyone comes of the dollar standard. Hey, but we have a Creationist Museum and Sarah Palin!!!

  • Anonymous

    Look, we’re an inch away from mass civil protests in this country..these polls mean nothing, people are PISSED OFF! Any Americans who aren’t pissed off by now are either believing Fox News or are in the top 1% that’s raping the rest of us. WAKE THE FUCK UP! This is about the most honest summation of where we stand that I’ve seen: http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/straight-talk-catherine-austin-fitts-we-are-victims-financial-coup-detat/51951

  • Anonymous

    Great article. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Amen. This Defense Crap must be cut First & Now. We can’t afford the Imperialism. Will gas prices go up. Yes, Jimmy Carter told us. Then we walk & take mass transit but at least this ;London Bridge is falling down’ economy will stabilize.

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