Reason-Rupe Poll: 96% Worry About Federal Debt, 74% Want Spending Cap...

And 80% would consider independent/third party candidate in 2012

Los Angeles (May 3, 2011) — As the federal government rapidly approaches the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, 96 percent of Americans say it is important to reduce the national debt, according to a new Reason Foundation-Rupe poll. Of those surveyed, 69 percent believe reducing the national debt is “very important.”

With the debt piling up, it is also clear that taxpayers do not trust the federal government to live within its means. In fact, the Reason-Rupe survey finds 74 percent of Americans support implementing a spending cap that would prohibit the government from spending more money than it takes in during a fiscal year. Only 19 percent oppose a government spending cap. 

The most popular policy prescription for reducing the national debt is spending cuts: 45 percent of people say Congress should bring down the debt by reducing spending without raising taxes. Another 16 percent favor reducing the debt primarily through spending cuts, but are open to some tax increases; 14 percent prefer an equal emphasis on spending cuts and tax increases; 8 percent want to reduce the debt primarily through higher taxes with some spending cuts; 4 percent say current spending levels should be maintained and taxes should be raised as needed; and 1 percent of Americans say we shouldn’t do anything about the debt.

Open-Ended Questions on the Economy and Spending

The Reason-Rupe poll included several open-ended questions that allowed respondents to voice concerns and share their own ideas. When asked to name the biggest problem facing America today, 30 percent say the economy, 23 percent name jobs and unemployment, and 10 percent cite government spending, debts and deficits.

When given the opportunity to name any government program they’d like to spend less money on 22 percent of Americans suggest cutting military and defense spending. Welfare (10 percent) and foreign aid (10 percent) were the other most-named cuts. When asked, open-ended, what the government should spend more money on, 39 percent say education, 16 percent focus on helping the poor and needy, and 13 percent single out health care.

2012 Presidential Election

With the 2012 election season ramping up, frustrated voters appear ready to look beyond Democratic and Republican candidates. Eighty percent say they will or may consider voting for a third-party or independent presidential candidate in 2012. And an even higher number of independents (89 percent) and GOP voters (86 percent) say they will or may consider candidates outside of the two major political parties.

The willingness to look beyond Democrats and Republicans stems, in part, from voters’ lack of trust in them. When asked which political party they trust to govern responsibly, the leading answer was “neither,” at 35 percent, followed by Democrats at 31 percent and Republicans at 23 percent. The survey also found 58 percent of voters believe they’d either see “no difference” or be “better off” if Congress were only in session every other year.

Taxes

Having recently filed their federal income taxes, 56 percent of Americans support replacing the current complicated tax system with a flat tax. Forty-four percent also favor, and 36 percent oppose, giving up the mortgage interest deduction and other tax breaks if it results in a simpler system with lower overall tax rates.  One tax change that respondents are against is a national sales tax. Just 33 percent of Americans support replacing federal income taxes with a national sales tax.

When asked about the amount of federal, state, local and property taxes they pay, 51 percent of Americans say they pay too much in taxes, 41 percent believe they pay about the right amount and 4 percent think they pay too little. 

Public Sector Benefits and Pensions

Half of all respondents say that public sector workers receive better benefits that those with similar jobs in the private sector, but only 37 percent support cutting those public employee benefits to help balance state budgets. 

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  • steve||

    99% of those polled would change their minds if an entitlement they hold dear is put on the chopping block.

  • steve||

    and 99% of the 80% who'd go for a 3rd party candidate will drop them like a hot rock once they make their opinion known on abortion/religion/foreign policy/debt/pick your contentious issue.

  • ||

    This.

    Very large majorities, in poll after poll, are against any cuts in defense, SS, Medicaid, or Medicare. There is no way to significantly reduce the deficit without cutting all of those (any entitlement "reform" will necessarily involve cuts), unless you eliminate or gut everything else (not a bad idea, IMHO, but it will not happen).

    I don't blame the politicians as much as the general public. The politicians are only doing what they get rewarded for.

  • Cyto||

  • ||

    True story:

    While I was turkey hunting last week*, we were chatting with the landowner. He was, of course, all for cutting spending, but sure hoped his CRP payments for not growing crops wouldn't get cut.

    *Turkey hunting lesson learned: When you forget to chamber a shell, the "click" of the firing pin hitting nothing doesn't spook turkeys. The "clack-chunk" of a shell chambering, however, does.

  • ||

    Did the landowner run when you chambered the shell?

  • Paul||

    He was, of course, all for cutting spending, but sure hoped his CRP payments for not growing crops wouldn't get cut.

    Tell him to raise the fees for turkey hunting to offset the CRP payments.

  • Realist||

    Exactly.

  • Richard ||

    Great, except the American people are liars (and/or rubes, who think that you can balance the budget if you get rid of "foreign aid" and "waste").

  • Cyto||

    Yep. 77% of Americans supported the decision to invade Iraq, even given the warning that it would cost tens of thousands of American lives and that we'd be there for over 5 years.

    All 3rd parties have managed to do so far is ensure that the status quo gets re-elected. We need our Reagan. And Ron Paul ain't it.

    I watched Ron Paul on Stossel a week ago. He couldn't handle an actor playing Obama in a debate in front of rabid Paul fans. Despite the facts that he's mostly right on the issues and we owe him, we need a new champion. Someone with charisma and intellect who is also right on the issues. Unfortunately, I don't see that guy. Gary Johnson is about as close as we are going to come, I guess... I'd love to see that one. The guy vetoed 750 bills as Governor. I'm not sure congress could get 750 bills to his desk, but it would be fun to watch the veto pen fly. I wonder how long it would take for them to impeach him?...

  • ||

    Ron Swanson for Prez

  • ||

    Every motherfucker I know claims to be "independent".

  • steve||

    Motherfuckers are a rebellious bunch

  • spencer||

    I blame their mothers.

  • mofo||

    Fuck thier mothers

  • ||

    I fuck their mothers

    ftfy

  • Nada||

    White line's in the middle of the road, that's the worst place to drive.

  • ||

    The only good thing about this bogus poll is that 80% of Americans would vote for an Independent. And the Teacrackers (alias Repuke Party) do not count as "independents."

  • spencer||

    SO, when exactly did you first notice yuo were under the delusion that you were funny?

  • Tim||

    Rupe? Who the heck is Rupe?

  • silent v||

    Rupe Poll--more like RuPaul! Huh? Amirite?

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    I think they meant Lupe, as in "Little Lupe".

    [Google it]

  • Amakudari||

  • Tim||

    "When given the opportunity to name any government program they’d like to spend less money on 22 percent of Americans suggest cutting military and defense spending. "

    This must have been pre-Osama headshot. Today those people are riding theirflag draped ATV's shooting guns in the air.

  • Cyto||

    22% is a pretty low number. 33% identify hard core Democrat - so they can't even get solid support from the core left.

    78% opposing cutting a program means that program isn't getting cut. Somebody is going to have to stand up and be a man and get the job done knowing they'll be reviled as the worst leader ever. And by somebody, obviously I mean about a dozen really important somebodies and about 300 people falling in line with them... all knowing they're going to get the boot.

    And they'd have to be smart enough to know that most of what they do will get undone.

    Rand Paul's 5 year budget plan to get to a $17 billion surplus would be a great platform for this group. It would be pretty tough to undo all of that change very quickly. Ooh, and I want a pony while we're at it....

  • Corporate Drone||

    Where's my FLYING CAR, dammit!?!?

  • Cyto||

    Here ya go... All ya have to do is plop down a downpayment. And they're looking for investors too!

  • Paul||

    Moller's fucked. Someone beat them to the market punch by doing and end-run. Moller's spent decades building a car that flies. Complex hovering, computerized stabilization. These guys built a plane the drives. BAM! Already to market.

    Kind of reminds me of this.

  • Somalian Road Corporation||

  • Realist||

    When everybody can vote, everybody loses.

  • steve||

    F*ck, I'm IN the military and I still think we need a cut...

  • Paul||

    Did you shoot bin Laden?

  • Realist||

    Too true. LOL

  • Cyto||

    When asked about the amount of federal, state, local and property taxes they pay, 51 percent of Americans say they pay too much in taxes, 41 percent believe they pay about the right amount and 4 percent think they pay too little.

    In other news... 47 percent of Americans pay no Federal income taxes (and most state's income tax brackets follow the federal model). I'd wager that most of that group also pay no direct property taxes (paying indirectly via rent). So that means that they view their FICA and Medicare taxes plus their sales tax as "about right" for a total tax burden. I'd also wager that most of that group has no idea how much they really pay for FICA and Medicare.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What is the point of having a fucking debt limit if they're just going to change it?

  • DLM||

    What is the point of having a fucking debt limit if they're just going to change it?

    At least when they change (or ignore) the spendingn cap, it will show up their hypocrisy more.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    They always want spending caps, but then they don't want to cut NASA, education, health & human services, the EPA, the NEA, PBS, NPR, etc, etc, etc.

    There's at least 0.5% of the deficit right there!

  • Cyto||

    Which also demonstrates just how crazy out-of-control federal spending really is.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    NASA should sell off it's properties/institutes to private firms and fold. I'd buy a launch pad if I could afford it.

    Let's do something similar with Amtrak.

  • ||

    So Americans like the benefits of civilization but don't want to pay the costs.

    Nothing new here. Americans have gone crazy for low taxes over the past 30 years and now we wonder why there is a big debt.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So Americans like the benefits of civilization but don't want to pay the costs.

    Yes, because the "benefits of civilization" can only come from the public sector, right?

    You should do something about your extra chromosome; jus' sayin'.

  • ||

    Well, obviously Americans want larger government because they keep electing people who increase the size of government.

  • Realist||

    Yes....they are fucking idiots!

  • ||

    And to you, Civilization = Massive Government?

  • ||

    Civilzation requires government, and the bigger and more complex a civilization gets the bigger and more complex the government needs to be.

  • ||

    Which explains, of course, why countries with bigger and more complex governments always surge ahead of countries without.

  • ||

    Well, would you rather live in a place with a big government like Sweden or a place with a small government like Somalia?

  • steve||

    cherry picking fail

  • ||

    Wrong, steve. What you don't see is that there is no middle ground whatsoever between totalitarianism and Hobbsian anarchy. None. Nada. Zip.

    That's because you only see the world in stark black and white, steve. Like all libertarians.

  • steve||

    No, what I see is a false choice tee'd up. I can do it to.
    Would you rather live in a place with a large government (relative to GDP) like Burma or place with a small government like Denmark?
    Mmmm, let me think...

  • ||

    Drink!

  • Paul||

    like Sweden or a place with a small government like Somalia?

    Drink!

  • Realist||

    The Somali government has total power....Somalia is all government!

  • Realist||

    That is when they had a government. And if they ever get another government it will be total!

  • Somalian Road Corporation||

    Investment opportunities abound in scenic Somalia!

  • Fluffy||

    The overwhelming majority of additional complexity in the system that can't be avoided by individual choice is created by the state itself.

    So it's a bit absurd to claim that we require a massive state due to "complexity" when the complexity only exists because of the state.

  • ||

    Tea Party=STUPIDITY!

  • ChrisO||

    Wow, that is *so* clever!

  • Amakudari||

    Rethuglicans!

  • Max||

    Everything in this poll points to Ron Paul. Could it really be that the country is ready for a principled advocate of small government and all that really entails?

  • spencer||

    One can only hope.

  • Vinny||

    Yes sadly this is just polling designed to generate favorable news for libertarianism/reason. The MSM does this kind of garbage all the time. Instead of asking if you would favor voting for a third party candidate, ask them if they will vote for Ralph Nader or Ron Paul if he ran third party.

  • Fluffy||

    I can't believe I read this whole thread and there isn't a single joke about "pole direction".

  • Spec U. Lation||

    1 percent of Americans say we shouldn't do anything about the debt.

    Of this 1%, half have no idea what "the debt" is, and the other half are hoping inaction will hasten TSHTF.

  • ChrisO||

    It's become clear that the U.S. will only adopt fiscal discipline when there is no other alternative.

    Which won't be pretty.

  • Stop NationalDebt||

    other polls show something different, they don't wish to cut benefits: "POLL REVEALS: Americans Are Still In Deep Denial About The Deficit" http://read.bi/h6QDGR If they realized how bad it is politicians would need to act. Non politics-junkies tune out numbers in the $trillions so we need to rephrase the issue:
    The federal government will need >$1 million per household to pay its IOUs!
    > $116 trillion ="official" debt plus money  short for future social security, medicare, etc
    Even its "official debt" of $14.2 trillion  is $123,754 per household!
    Details at StopNationalDebt.com with links to contact congress & complain.

    Be among the first to join the new Facebook cause "Stop National Debt" : http://www.causes.com/causes/6.....ional-debt
    since if you don't spread the word, who will?
    We need to spread the word virally to educate non news-junkies. Facebook causes let you invite your friends easily to make it more likely they can go viral. Your& your friends may understand the issue.. but perhaps their friends don't, etc. We need to wake up those who don't pay close attention to the budget news.

  • Evan Zimmerman||

    NO! Really? LIBERTARIANS who read a LIBERTARIAN MAGAZINE generally would consider 3rd party candidates, and want limited spending? WOW!

  • ||

    This Reason-Rupe poll surveyed a random, national sample of 1,200 adults by telephone (859 on landlines, 341 on cell phones) from March 24 to April 9, 2011. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted for Reason Foundation by NSON Opinion Strategy.

    Congratulations. You're a Grade A dipshit.

  • Warty||

    Don't scare him away just yet. He could be our most intelligent troll in years.

  • Amakudari||

    I like his use of caps and incredulity. It's really very subtle. I TOO would like to see him STAY!

  • Warty||

    Evan likes Apple, Ford, Libertarianism, and jazz. However, he hates the iPad, the F-150, Jacksonian Democracy, and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Evan is 17 and ready to take the world by storm.

    Perfect.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I think you may offend some 17 year olds...

  • Paul||

    Right, just like government employees don't think the government is too small.

  • Tony||

    Federal debt is the new black. Of course, there've already been several new blacks: Latinos, Arabs, gays, Saddam Hussein... The beauty of the GOP's strategy of always running on exaggerated fear is that, well, they can just make it up.

    What I don't get is the threat that our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences via high taxes. Why? Not only do we not have to raise taxes now to pay down debt, apparently, we can't and shouldn't--so what makes them thing our children and grandchildren will be forced to do so?

  • Amakudari||

    Because the benefits accrued under Social Security and especially Medicare will have their greatest cash flow impact in the future? Because we're funding current consumption and military adventures with debt instead of taxation, and it's growing faster than our economy? Duh?

  • Realist||

    "And 80% would consider independent/third party candidate in 2012" Right!

  • sailor||

    I still hate polls and doubt the validity of their results.

  • jandy25||

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  • Terry||

    "When asked, open-ended, what the government should spend more money on, 39 percent say education, 16 percent focus on helping the poor and needy, and 13 percent single out health care."

    A question referring to *the* government is not open-ended. Good to know Reason is doing its part to ensure the populace never thinks in federal terms again. 'Cause, as everyone knows, the most centralized government is the least interventionist, right? Fucking criminal.

  • DLM||

    The main problem with a spending cap or any other law that restricts Congress from spending more is that it will be ignored; books will be juggled, terms will be redefined, anything but actually limit spending. What's necessary is a practical check on spending. I'm not sure what that would be. One idea is to create effectively a fourth branch of government independent of the rest of government who with the job of auditing and reporting on the finances of any part of the U.S. government; and with the authority of investigating these finances. This would be a real check rather than a few words (e.g., balanced budget amendment) just to make people feel better that would have little effect. Currently we have to rely on the CBO (Congress) or GAO (President) to give us accurate information. Even if they do, they will be ignored. There could be some defined restrictions on how a bill is to be composed related to spending and finances. This fourth branch could also have the authority to judge if the bill met those restrictions. It's not an easy question, but I very rarely hear any practical ideas on how to actually prevent over-spending by the federal government. (Something like a balanced budget amendment to the constitution is inadequate, to put it nicely.)

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  • sologn||

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