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Although other polls, like this one from CBS, show that Americans are not particularly concerned (10 percent) about deficit spending and the national debt, a Financial Times/Harris Poll shows support in the United States and the five richest European Union countries for cuts in government spending to reduce deficits. As reported by Tony Barber (subscription only):

Asked if public spending cuts were necessary to help long-term economic recovery, 84 per cent of French people, 71 per cent of Spaniards, 69 per cent of Britons, 67 per cent of Germans and 61 per cent of Italians answered Yes. In the US, 73 per cent of Americans agreed. ...

Asked if they preferred public spending cuts or tax rises as a way to reduce budget deficits and national debts, strong majorities in the five EU countries as well as the US were in favour of spending cuts.

Similarly conservative views on public expenditure emerged when people were asked if EU governments were right to engage in large-scale deficit-spending after the 2008 crisis. In all five EU countries, a majority – ranging from 68 per cent in France and Italy to 54 per cent in the UK – said the governments were wrong to have done so.

But, as can be seen from the chart below, the spending that people want cut most is for foreign aid and the military. There was practically no support for cutting public spending on health care and education.

While Americans and the British seem to want to put the onus for spending cuts on development assistance, with defense a distant second, there's a problem with that approach. The UK spends about one-fourth as much on civilian foreign aid as it does for its military. In the United States, we appropriate a pittance in civilian foreign aid, one of the lowest per capita amounts in the developed world. The total foreign affairs budget, which includes civilian aid and all the administrative costs of diplomatic and consular affairs, is calculated at $52 billion for FY 2011.

That clocks in at 1/20th as much as military spending for fiscal 2011 ($895 billion). This works out to $103 per American for civilian foreign aid, if you figure "aid" generously, and $2896 apiece for the military. Adjusted for inflation, that military budget for the coming year will be the largest the U.S. has seen since World War Two.

In case you're not in that nearly half the U.S. population which believes foreign aid comprises one of the two largest government spending areas, take note. Merely cutting the way overdue, way over-cost fleet of F-35 jet fighters by 13 percent would cover an entire year's budget for foreign affairs. And that would still allow U.S. acquisition of 2100 of the fifth-generation fighters. But that's as likely as trimming away the  billions being flushed away in Afghanistan.

Instead, despite what rank-and-file Americans prefer, we'll wind up adopting majorly screwed-up priorities and let teachers and a few hundred thousand other public employees lose their jobs.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:03 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Do we count paying Afghan Taliban (10+ / 0-)

    as part of the military budget or the foreign aid budget? Seems to me that that's a payment we should be stopping as well.

    Republican ideas are like sacks of manure but without the sacks.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:06:35 PM PDT

  •  With a public that ignorant (10+ / 0-)

    it is no wonder that politicians find it so easy to sell them a bill of goods.

    •  Don't you think a tax-earnings ratio (0+ / 0-)

      would help this discussion?

      My understanding is that the US pays relatively lower taxes compared to European counterparts. If that is so, doesn't it change the substance of the chart??

      It's only water. What could go wrong???

      by MrSandman on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:22:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that most people (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cybersaur, beltane

        are just reacting emotionally to catch phases and don't pay any attention to charts, much less read them intelligently. People think that government finances are just like personal finances. If you are in debt you have to cut back. Demand stimulus economics is not intuitive.

      •  Actually, I think a more useful (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MrSandman, dinotrac

        factual basis is how much Americans are taxed now as compared to past history in the U.S., since Europe has different systems of providing for its people and different expectations by voters.

        Anyway, if you want some data, here's some tables of taxes as a percent of GDP.  

        •  Sort of. I think this is more useful (0+ / 0-)

          for the point i was trying to make: we pay less taxes as a percent of GDP than those countries in the graph.

          My colleagues in a few of those counries are quite happy to pay more to get things like universal health insurance and they are not about to cut it. I think how you value certain things you actually use is not unrelated to what you pay for those same things.

          But I could be totally wrong. It's just my sense of the issue.

          It's only water. What could go wrong???

          by MrSandman on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:48:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You'd have to convince the public (0+ / 0-)

            that they are willing to pay significantly more in taxes than they've ever been used to (like a VAT or something similar) in exchange for more social services provided by the government.  

            Right now, that's a hard sell, I think, largely because (once the economy starts to turn around) everybody WILL be paying significantly more to reduce the "unsustainable" deficit levels.  You'd have to convince the U.S. public that they are willing to pay more OVER AND ABOVE those increases that are already coming.  

    •  Development aid (0+ / 0-)

      There is a mounting evidence that much development aid is wasted.  I am increasingly inclined to accept William Easterly's critique of it, although I do think that the Millennium Challenge Corporation's approach of conditioning aid on good governance, economic freedom, and investing in people has some merit.

      Given this, it is hasty to call the results of the poll "ignorant."  You can legitimately disagree with the position of these folks, but it is hardly a position without any merit whatsoever.

    •  When they agree with you, (0+ / 0-)

      I'll bet they're salt of the earth...

      For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

      by Paul Goodman on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:42:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  End the wars now... (10+ / 0-)

    ...and use the money to re-invest in the U.S.

    Anyone who thinks the Afghan war is "winnable" in some fashion really needs to read Anthony Cordesman's take on it.

    The sleep of reason produces monsters.

    by Alumbrados on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:08:59 PM PDT

    •  Afghanistan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      I cannot say whether Afghanistan is "winnable."  Many people said Iraq was unwinnable, and although the exit there might not be clean, it is palpable.  

      But I do not see how our vital national interests are at stake in Afghanistan.

      •  Winners and losers (0+ / 0-)

        In Iraq the quiet but big winners are US companies in the oil industry and those of the MIC. Those US companies were locked out under Saddam. It remains to be seen just how lucrative Iraq's energy resources will be into the future for US companies but there is a lot of it there and we are no longer shut out.

        The big losers are the Iraqi people who were killed, possibly a million or more, depending on which sources one chooses to believe and the several million who had to flee their homes and their country because of the violence we brought to them.

        Iraq remains one of the most violent countries on the planet. The production of electricity, in spite of $$millions contracted to US companies to upgrade the Iraqi power generating and distribution system remains very low with respect to growing demand.

        There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. Sun Tzu - The Art of War

        by truong son traveler on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 09:50:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Who cares about polls? (7+ / 0-)

    All polls ever do is show how dumb the American people are. Just govern the fucking country and the sheep will follow.

  •  People always assume "wasteful" government (7+ / 0-)

    spending does not involve them.

    "A man of true science uses but few hard words, and those only when none other will answer his purpose..." - Melville

    by ZedMont on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:09:47 PM PDT

  •  Great, so the media has been hammering this (8+ / 0-)

    point over and over so much it is starting to seep into the brains of average Americans and they have absorbed the message, and are now regurgitating it.

  •  $3B to Israel... a worthy cut (4+ / 0-)

    Let them slay the Palestinians on their own dime.

    "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." - Obama, Protector of Wall Street

    by The Dead Man on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:12:00 PM PDT

  •  Foreign aid is (7+ / 0-)

    minuscule compared to defense spending. Is this something that people in the English speaking world are unaware of, or do we all suffer from empire syndrome?

    You don't bring a knife to a gunfight and you don't bring a chicken to the doctor.

    by beltane on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:12:12 PM PDT

    •  Sounds more like we suffer from selfishness... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...syndrome. Wonder if it ever occurs to the imperialist types that maybe our giving merely peanuts (or worse) to help impoverished countries who genuinely need it is one of the reasons why we feel we "need" a ginormous military?

      •  Americans do give a rather substantial amount (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR, boofdah

        to private charities, including those buying mosquito nets and fighting malaria in Africa, buying laptops for children in developing nations, etc.

        A nation is comprised of its citizenry as well as its government.

        Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

        by dinotrac on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:45:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Americans give over half of all charitable (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LouisMartin, boofdah

          dollars to education and religion, meaning to their Alma maters and their churches.  Such self serving charity dwarfs the amount we as private citizens give to poor countries.  Also, we give to ease our conscience, not to bring results.  All we would have to do to TRULY help the poor is to have our government transfer the billions of necessary dollars from our very rich to their very poor.  But not even Democrats talk about that kind of solution.

          Republican ideology has made us the barbaric Americans we are, but that doesn't excuse us for having bought into it so fully.

          Read Teixeira's 2010 report, and see why the GOP is done.

          by Georgeo57 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:27:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Something like one third (0+ / 0-)

      of foreign aid goes to Israel.  If they can afford to build settlements on stolen land to appease their extremists, then they can do without Uncle Sugar.

  •  Most of our foreign aid (3+ / 0-)

    goes to Israel and some of its neighbors.

    And that has the wholehearted support of Congress and presidential administrations of both parties

    I'll bet the ignoramuses think most of it goes to China, Vietnam, and other commie countries.  

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:13:52 PM PDT

  •  This shows that the voting (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, boofdah, lordcopper, coffejoe

    public has expectations that are divorced from reality.  Yes, there will be some military cuts, but there is no way that this Administration (especially in light of its commitment in Afghanistan) is really drastically cut military spending, like even by 1/3.  And even if military spending was eliminated completely, it would not be enough to close the projected deficits (which are likely to be even larger than we thought, since the   amounts were based on projected growth of between 3.8% and 4.5% a year, and we're going to (it looks like) fall far short of that.  (The deficit projections also assume, by the way, that the Bush tax cuts will expire, so -- to the extent that's a "tax increase," it's already built in there).  

    So, here's what the public wants:  eliminate the deficit, but don't cut anything I like, and don't raise taxes on anybody except maybe the Wall Street hedge fund manager types.

    Can't happen.  Not nearly.  The numbers just don't add up.  

  •  "The voters" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

  •  But wait . . . . (0+ / 0-)

    I though electing Democrats was going to save us, especially with supermajorities in both houses of Congress and in the White House.

    That's what you folks told us in 2004, 2006, and 2008.

    So how do you explain this sentence:

    "Instead, despite what rank-and-file Americans prefer, we'll wind up adopting majorly screwed-up priorities and let teachers and a few hundred thousand other public employees lose their jobs."

    I don't understand.  I thought Obama and the Democrats were going to set this country on the right path.

    Were you folks wrong?

    "I want to put out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." --Barack H. Obama, April 2, 2010

    by LivinginReality on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:16:55 PM PDT

    •  Gaining "supermajorities" by definition means (0+ / 0-)

      that you've won swing districts/states, and will have to continue to account for conservative Democrats.  The answer is to persuade over time.

      "Because I am a river to my people."

      by lordcopper on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:27:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How much time would that be? (0+ / 0-)

        I've been watching Democratic Party betrayals and sell outs since the 1980s and 1990s.

        Not to mention the fact that I've been coming to this site (under a different name) since 2003 and been hearing the same thing going back to 2004.

        So, how much time is it going to take, Einstein?

        "I want to put out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." --Barack H. Obama, April 2, 2010

        by LivinginReality on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:32:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Obviously longer than the election cycle you're (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          willing allocate.  However, if you're looking for an example, look at the GOP.  They put together a 40 year campaign to change the "default" position of the average American voter, and you can see the fruits of that investment today.

          "Because I am a river to my people."

          by lordcopper on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:41:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No time at all (0+ / 0-)

            if progressives were willing to bargain with Lou Dobbs Democrats and the Ron Paul types.

            Not enough humility and fear of the future for that, though.

            For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

            by Paul Goodman on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:47:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  IJMHO your time scale is flawed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades

          In 2003, the consensus opinion here was that, with luck, we could achieve a functional progressive Senate by the elections of 2016.  Of course, that was during a period when most of the folks hanging out here were real political junkies with hands-on election experience.

          BTW, any suggestions you might have to accelerate the process are always appreciated.

          "Never let up. Crush bigotry and greed."

          by LouisMartin on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 08:06:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  First we destroy the Republican Party; (0+ / 0-)

      then we save us.  How could it work out any other way?

      Read Teixeira's 2010 report, and see why the GOP is done.

      by Georgeo57 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:30:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's poll on if we think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Bohemian Rebel

    there are too many polls.

    How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened. Thomas Jefferson

    by coffejoe on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:16:57 PM PDT

  •  These polls are worthless (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happy camper, Blicero, lordcopper

    it's all about how the questions are asked of course.  Has there ever been an opinion poll where people said they favored more govt. spending when it's phrased that way?

  •  $895B vs. $885B: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, cybersaur

    $10 billion would pay for more than 100,000 public school teachers (salaries and benefits).

    All those employed people would buy stuff and pay taxes, too.  Oh, and educate young people, I suppose.

    In public education, the depth of the ravine between management and labor is rivaled only by its width.

    by algebrateacher on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:20:33 PM PDT

  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LouisMartin, lordcopper

    Typical American ignorance and childishness.....wanting to cut MOST that part of th ebudget that uses the LEAST funding of all major categories.

    It would be funny were it not so pathetic.

    I am now officially BOYCOTTING all CLEAN ENERGY SPONSORS - until I am no longer forced to watch their commercials on DailyKOS!!

    by GayIthacan on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:20:56 PM PDT

  •  Until you can get the Senators to listen to Gates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Abra Crabcakeya, dinotrac

    when he says defense spending is not sustainable and many of the systems that they are funding are NOT useful or needed.  If they won't listen to a Republican Defense Secty they aren't going to listen to anyone.  That is the shame of the GOBP.

    "Sweet Jesus I hate Hannity"

    by shanti2 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:27:21 PM PDT

    •  Defense cuts are not nearly enough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Abra Crabcakeya

      Sure, there are some savings to be had there.  But let's say the defense budget was cut by a third -- which would be HUGE, would provoke an outcry from all over the country (base closings, factory closings, that kind of thing) and is just not going to happen.  Let's use the really high end of estimates and say total military spending is $1 trillion.  So, you'd save $330 million.  The deficit is something like $1.5 - $1.8 trillion a year.  It's a start.  But there's still A LOT of money that has to come from somewhere.  

    •  A long term problem that Bush ran into and other (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Abra Crabcakeya

      Presidents before him.

      Defense spending has been spread around to so many Congressional districts that rational action is all but impossible.

      Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

      by dinotrac on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:48:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Meanwhile, Bob Gates pleads for another $37 bil (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..for supplemental funding.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Senate Republicans Tuesday and asked them to vote for a stalled war supplemental bill he hoped would pass months ago.

    But whether the GOP conference will get on board with the $37 billion legislation — and when — is still very much in question, despite party consensus that funding American troops constitutes a "true emergency."

    Democrats had wanted to send the bill to the president's desk by the July 4 recess, but amendments added by the House at the 11th hour unrelated to defense spending caused a stalemate, with Republicans reticent to support a bill with unwanted provisions on health care and education.

    When questioned by reporters as he exited the caucus room, Gates said he "absolutely" asked Republicans to vote for the bill, adding that he also "talked about a wide range of military and defense issues."

    Read more:

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:33:29 PM PDT

  •  what is it about the US and UK? (3+ / 0-)
    US and UK only 30% want to cut offense spending.

    And Germany has the highest percent who want to cut it.  Maybe that's because Germans know firsthand where glorification of the military leads.  The US and UK still haven't figured it out, Vietnam and Iraq notwithstanding.  

    We're apparently still laboring under the "good war" myth.

  •  What are the numbers if you include private and (0+ / 0-)

    public giving?

    Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

    by dinotrac on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:42:54 PM PDT

  •  How many rank-and -file Americans or Europeans (0+ / 0-)

    were polled by the Financial Times/Harris poll.

    10% of Americans are concerned  with deficit spending & the national debt [CBS] whereas 60-70% are concerned according to the Financial Times.

    Sounds fishy.  

    What is the proportion of rich/middle class polled in Financial times v CBS polled?
    That would be a gauge of the real population numbers and more important imo

    unless money is weighted heavier than people

    I don't want your country back..I want my country forward - Bill Maher

    by Eric Nelson on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:50:55 PM PDT

  •  Soo many people want to cut defense (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizenx, Abra Crabcakeya

    But you can't find a politician or political leader who will.

  •  I can't for the life of me figure out (4+ / 0-)

    how the citizens of this nation can entertain the notion of cutting social security, medicare and other social programs and not scream at the top of their lungs about cutting military spending.

    Are we so insecure as a nation that we must have far and away the most obnoxiously most powerful military as opposed to just the most powerful military?

  •  The economies of rich countries do not crumble (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Abra Crabcakeya

    for no reason.  That citizens of rich countries who now donate less than 1/2 of one percent of their GDP to poor countries as foreign aid want to cut that paltry aid provides more than enough reason for why we and the other rich countries are in the mess we're in.

    We can blame Republicans for pulling us in the direction of greed, selfishness, and callousness, but that does us little good.  

    We in the rich countries had better grow our conscience and begin to better understand our responsibility to the poor on our planet.  If we don't, the universal justice that both builds and destroys empires will turn against us and have the rich world go the way of Rome.

    Climate change and the 2008 global economic collapse are mere warnings.  We had better become more compassionate or we not longer deserve any of the blessing that we have come to expect and enjoy.

    Read Teixeira's 2010 report, and see why the GOP is done.

    by Georgeo57 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:18:05 PM PDT

  •  Ummm, spending cuts...let's see, we could (3+ / 0-)

    cut war spending without impacting Americans negatively. Then there's, um, war spending. And if neither of those work for you, we could always just CUT WAR SPENDING.

  •  Cutting spending is the best solution. (3+ / 0-)

    The only problem is the deficit hawks want to cut the wrong spending.  We are currently fighting two wars that we have no hope of either winning, for some value of winning, nor of even finding a stable exit point.  The only questions left regarding Iraq and Afghanistan are how many more lives will we destroy, and how much more money will we let corruption at home and abroad steal from the American people.  Cutting that waste is not only painless, it makes us much healthier in the long run.

    Now, completely separate from the expenditures for our wasteful wars, there is a regular defense budget.  This is one area where I am proud to say I look to a Republican to guide me, and a former General at that.  The military-industrial complex tries to frame any possible cut of the defense budget as weakness, but how strong do we have to be?  We could slash our defense budget in half, and our defense budget would be equal to the rest of the world's military budgets combined.  Oh, and while we are talking about slashing, by targeting wasteful weapons systems and other gross forms of waste, we could keep current troop strengths, improve readiness by actually having all divisions fully staffed and equipped, and significantly improve the quality of life of those serving.

    The reality is that if we don't start diverting more money from defense procurement to education, we will soon lose our technological advantage.  

  •  Of course the American... (0+ / 0-)

    people are for more debt to pay for more spending because that is having your cake (in the short run)and eating it too...

    Obama - Change I still believe in

    by dvogel001 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:27:21 PM PDT

  •  Once you use special pleading (0+ / 0-)

    for foreign aid, it dilutes your argument (outside of the echo chamber, that is).

    For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

    by Paul Goodman on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:40:09 PM PDT

  •  Cut foreign aid drastically (0+ / 0-)

    Place as much as can be done under programs in the Depts of Energy, Commerce, Defense, and State, then cut USAID by 25%.  If we are lucky, it may end up a 5% cut or so but the gain of headlines saying a 25% cut in foreign aid would be huge.  Tie those cuts to similar strong, long-term cuts in the defense department and it could be a game-changer.  By the way, I'd make the aid cuts to last two years.  What if we had a real cut of 5%, every year for 5 years, in the defense dept.?  That would start adding up to real money after a while.

  •  5X (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's why I'm pushing my 5X plan to limit military spending to the equivalent of the next five largest military budgets in the world. It forces people to think about how large the Pentagon budget is. It gives people a feel for how far out of whack it is.

    After we implement my 5X plan, I think we should move on to my 4X plan. What do you think?

  •  Less than 2% of total US budget (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's what foreign aid comprises. TCutting US foreign aid to balance the US budget is like me trying to pay off my mortgage by cutting the bi-monthly cheap cigar out of my budget.

  •  I say this in every Education Spending diary (0+ / 0-)

    The teachers unions should take on defense spending to get funds for education. Simply demanding money from poor states is not going to get them very far. We need as many folks as possible on board to take down the Military Industrial vampire that is sucking the nation dry to enrich a few well placed individuals and corporations.

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