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.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.)
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.
Here's what the pollsters said:
Conclusion: Despite a dislike of taxes (e.g. in 2010 52% said their ownWould you know any of this if you only watched TV?
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