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A long-in-existance poll (data going back to the 70's) done by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago shows some interesting budget priorities from the US public. From Behind the Numbers:  

Despite the fierce political battle over federal spending and budget cutting, a newly released poll confirms that little changed in American spending priorities between 2008 and 2010, the heart of the recession.

In the just released poll from the General Social Survey, far more people said the United States is spending "too little" rather than "too much" on a variety of social programs and issues.

If you notice the chart to the right (click for bigger picture), you'll see positive numbers for education and health (which remain the public's two top priorities.) From the survey (.pdf), this explanation: "Positive scores indicate that more people want to increase spending than to decrease it and negative scores mean that the cutters outnumber the adders." So, the max anything can get is +100 (everyone wants to spend) and the minimum would be -100 (no one wants to spend.)

Here's what the pollsters said:

Conclusion: Despite a dislike of taxes (e.g. in 2010 52% said their own
federal income tax was too high, 46% about right, and 2% too low),
more people have always favored increases in spending than cuts. In
2010, as in most years since the 1970s, people have backed more
spending in about three-quarters of the areas and less spending in
only the bottom quarter. Moreover, the number of areas with
positive net spending scores not only outnumbered areas with
negative scores, but are also larger. In 2010, the largest negative
score (-55.1 for Foreign Aid) was bested by the top three positive
scores (Education +68.6, Health +64.9, Assistance for the Poor
Would you know any of this if you only watched TV?

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Comment Preferences

  •  So, Dem, what do people want to spend less on? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ctsteve, MTmofo, ejoanna, Kinak

    We know Foreign Aid is on the list......




  •  The voters are Progressive (10+ / 0-)

    in what they really want. For example around 70% wanted the Public Option. Yet the Koch talking points continue to rule the media and our politicians.

    •  And people eager to answer polls don't vote (0+ / 0-)

      F* 'em if they don't vote, sez a disgusted I.

    •  Yeah, right (0+ / 0-)

      That's why a slew of republicans who ran as an anthesis to these poll's findings got elected.
      I have found that most Americans are so painfully ignorant, and hold such odd, irrational, incompatible views, that they can be led around like children.
      From the "drill baby drill" crowd who starts squaking everytime gas spikes, to the guy who bitches about the estate tax when I know he doesn't even have a pot to piss in, I see examples eveyday as to what a sucker the average American is.

      Just another day in Oceania.

      by drshatterhand on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 06:33:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tax the rich. (9+ / 0-)

    End the wars.

    Spend spend spend on things America desperately needs, made by Americans.

    A simple prescription that would guarantee re-election for almost any federal office. Why can't they learn.

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell - Edward Abbey

    by ZAP210 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:40:51 PM PST

    •  Free Stuff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Well giving away free stuff is certainly one way to get re-elected

      •  Jobs are not free stuff. (0+ / 0-)

        Purchase orders are not free stuff.

        Fixing infrastructure, retooling energy production, educating our kids and feeding ourselves is all hard work that idle hands can be put to for an honest wage. Nothing free about that.

        Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell - Edward Abbey

        by ZAP210 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:37:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  People don't mind paying taxes (0+ / 0-)

      They mind not getting ENOUGH for their taxes.

      People who live in good school districts often pay more in property taxes. THey don't necessarily like it, but those good schools are part of the reason they moved into that neighborhood, and they know that if they have considerably lower taxes, they get considerably worse schools.

      Other services are worse as well. They SEE what they get for their taxes. People complain about state taxes too, but they often see something for their state taxes - police, roads, colleges, etc.

      What do they see for their federal taxes? War. That's about it.

      Pass universal health care, with small copays and hospital costs, and a lifetime cap on fees, and people wouldn't mind if their taxes went up a bit.

      Because most people pay MORE than that in health insurance costs. As long as it puts more money in people's pockets, they don't care what the breakdown is.

      Older people often complain about taxes. They remember the amount they paid when they were younger. They made less then, stuff cost less then, but they don't take that into account.

  •  Weird that... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poxonyou, rebel ga, supercereal, Kinak

    Public transportation fell off the top 10, and roads snuck in... Is this part of the privatization mindset, do you think, or a not to the fact that our infrastructure is crumbling around us, and it can't be ignored any more?

    •  Drat, that's 'nod'... eom (0+ / 0-)
    •  Imagine the latter (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, brein

      Don't see why a rational person would hate fast, modern, cleaner, reliable public transportation. But the roads in so much of America look like shit, some are down right dangerous.

    •  That (0+ / 0-)

      And the constant lies about public transit (see the Florida debacle, for example).  And the stimulus - both all the talk about rebuilding infrastructure that surrounded it and the fact that the most obvious effect of the stimulus for most people was road construction with big signs telling them what was paying for it.

      "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

      by libdevil on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:53:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's springtime in Kansas... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, brein

      ...and while we've been eviscerating our state's budget, we've had ridiculous snow this year. I was in Topeka yesterday and hit what had clearly started as a pothole but became a pot-trench over the course of the winter, and felt my teeth rattle and my aging car lose another ten thousand miles off of its life.

      On another street, I felt like taking a picture of the water-filled decayed bits of road and subtitling it, motivational poster-style, "POTHOLES: If we fix them, where will we swim?"

      Trains are important long-term, but roads feel more important now.

      "I set up a stage, put up a few banners, stuck a podium up there, and started shouting 'Yes we can.' Next thing you know there's 150,000 people here." -Joe

      by Geiiga on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:41:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Poll after Poll continues to show that the GOP (8+ / 0-)

    platform is not what the majority of voters want. Walker woke up a lot of sleeping voters not only in Wisconsin but nation wide.

    This republican tidal wave is going to be pushed back hard in 2012.

    They are not doing the people's business and the people are finally becoming aware of it.

    It's important to keep moving matter what.

    by flatford39 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:44:59 PM PST

    •  I like to think that a lot of swing voters, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Arnie, mmacdDE, supercereal

      got into the voting booth and said to themselves, "Fine, you assholes, I'll give you a chance.  In two years, watch out."

      "Go well through life"-Me (As far as I know)

      by MTmofo on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:56:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to sure about that... I think the independents (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Arnie, MTmofo, brein, Larsstephens, supercereal

        were very dissatisfied with the Dems for one reason and that was a lack of JOBS.  Now that they see what they helped elect I can't believe they are going to vote GOP again.

        The GOP has made it clear that they do not want to stimulate job growth in our country. They still want to push the same platform issues of abortion, racism & deficit spending.

        The Democratic platform only need to be one thing. Job creation. Job creation. Job creation.

        It's important to keep moving matter what.

        by flatford39 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:08:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unless the GOP fabricates another security (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Arnie, MTmofo, raincrow

          threat to the nation they will only have their record for job creation to run on.

          It's important to keep moving matter what.

          by flatford39 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:11:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And FIX things, and tax the rich (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Even just making the tax system fairer would help.

          Adjust the income levels to allow for inflation, and bring back the old tax rates.

          Most people would pay no taxes - but the rich, they'd pay a FORTUNE.

          Or at least, tax capital gains above 20k as regular income. First 20k, no problem. No tax AT ALL on that. But after that? Regular tax rates.

          Hardly ANYBODY gets more than 20k. And if you do, you're doing really, really WELL.

  •  If we lived in a democracy, that would mean someth (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, millwood, Crider, judyms9

    ing. Instead, we have "Pick your team after being bombarded with 2 years of manipulative propaganda." Then go home and leave the control of everything around you in the hands of these professionals and the dictators who run the private companies (that also spend a ton of money on the politicians).

  •  Polls tell us about the potential (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for support, but unless public opinion is mobilized, it has no impact.  

    So, how do we mobilize people? How do we create the organizational power, the institutional structure, to make that opinion a political force?

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

    by David Kaib on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:55:17 PM PST

    •  I'm surprised that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib

      OFA and Obama's campaign operation aren't using all those cell phone numbers they got more.

      Honestly - I opted in, and the only texts I've gotten since the inauguration are for big speeches.

      Send me talking points. At least once a week. Tell me what the GOP is doing, what stupid stuff they're trying to pass. Tell me to call my Congressman (and give me the number and email), tell me to call my Senators (same thing). Tell me to tell my friends.

      They're letting a real asset just sit there.

  •  U of C - *obviously* liberal elite n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Our country is broken (0+ / 0-)

    because of years of deceptive political posturing - on both sides of the aisle.  Way too many people think we can have it all, and if the governement funds it then it is magically free.  We've allowed people to think that for way too long now.

    To make it worse, to the extent people understand the cost of programs, they still think "their" programs can be funded by "someone else".  So of course there is a strong desire to spend more on almost everything.

    I do believe most of our domestic spending is appropriate and we need to increase taxes (and lower defense spending) to pay for it - including my own taxes.  But we need to educate a whole generation of people that grew up believing that borrowing fixes everything.

    TANSTAAFL (Robert Heinlein - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)

  •  Speaking as a lazy ex-government employee (5+ / 0-)

    of the social service system, I welcome spending on social programs.

    Again - programs are jobs.

    Social programs mean jobs.

    It's purty simple.

    21st Century Republicans would much rather legalize murder than marijuana.
    DK4 Cannabis Reform Group Writing Guidelines

    by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:12:43 PM PST

  •  Don't tell me what your priorities are, show me... (0+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what your priorities are. Show me your budget and I'll tell you what your priorities are.

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

    by Citizen Earth on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:15:19 PM PST

  •  NORC surveys are science. Freidman shamed UofC! (0+ / 0-)

    Use to think the world of U of Chicago.  TGF NORC!

    Milton Freidman turned away from Keynesian ecomomics, for the Free Market model, probably due to greed.

    May Alan Greenspan join Milton in hell and do a slow burn!

  •  (shrug) Too bad the electorate doesn't vote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arnie, raincrow

    that way.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:41:06 PM PST

  •  What I want to know (0+ / 0-)

    I am not interested in what this "public" wants unless I also know if they VOTE. (I'd also like regional breakdowns.) If they don't vote, their opinions are nothing more than flatulence.

  •  so at what point does overwhelming (0+ / 0-)

    public opinion count as "make me do it" ?

    I'd say it never does, because it's not wall st's opinion.

    big badda boom : GRB 080913

    by squarewheel on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:06:25 PM PST

  •  And just to reiterate (0+ / 0-)

    NORC is as serious and scientific as it gets.

    All kidding aside - it's the f'ing oligarchy, stupid.

    by nightsweat on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:10:44 PM PST

  •  Foreign Aid is a big scapegoat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, Larsstephens

    This illustrates a fundamental problem: people are generally ignorant of how much money the government actually spends on things.

    The last two things on that list, the things most ripe for cuts in the public's eye, Space Exploration and Foreign Aid together cost about $30bn... or about 96% less than what the defense budget is, and they account for less than 2% of all federal spending.

    It's easy to dismiss Foreign Aid, "oh why should we be concerned about other people when we can't even get our house in order"... until we're reminded of what Foreign Aid is: helping Haiti climb out from under the rubble of Port-Au-Prince, etc.

    Space Exploration is a pet issue of mine. I wax poetic about it, and it might sound corny, but I believe space is our future. It's our next frontier. Like Green Energy and Climate Change, we should be working towards it now, not later. We can do without the current Space Shuttle boondoggle that barely qualifies as exploration, but we should be exploring Mars, the moons of Jupiter, etc.

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