With the federal government expected to hit its debt limit in mid-October, 70 percent of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling, the latest Reason-Rupe poll finds. In fact, 55 percent of Americans say they do not support raising the debt ceiling even if it causes the U.S. to default on its debt.
If equal spending cuts accompany an increase in the debt ceiling, 45 percent say they'd support raising it and 46 percent would oppose. Thirty-five percent favor raising the debt ceiling in exchange for cutting off funding to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with 56 percent opposed.
Nearly two-thirds, 63 percent, of Americans feel members of Congress are out of touch with their constituents when it comes to federal spending. Seventy-six percent of Americans believe the federal government spends too much money, 11 percent say it spends the right amount, and seven percent say it spends too little.
In response to open-ended questions, Americans told Reason-Rupe the government wastes 60 cents out of every dollar they pay in federal taxes and they'd cut federal spending by 30 percent across the board.
Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) 2013 budget plan aims to balance the federal budget over 10 years, but Reason-Rupe finds the public wants it done sooner than that. In fact, 40 percent of Americans say Congress should balance the budget immediately, 32 percent say the budget should be balanced over five years, 16 percent feel it should be balanced over 10 years, and seven percent say Congress should not worry about balancing the budget.
Sixty-four percent of Americans say if a member of Congress does not agree with them on federal spending they'd describe that member as "extreme."
A majority of Americans, 56 percent, believe Congress passes too many laws. And more than two-thirds of Americans, 67 percent, say Congress passes the "wrong kinds of laws." Yet, 69 percent also say partisan gridlock is preventing Congress from getting more things done and 67 percent would like Congress to compromise more, even if they don't like the resulting legislation.
NSA Spying and the Obama Administration's Transparency
President Obama has said, "This is the most transparent administration in history." However, 63 percent of Americans say they disagree with the president's transparency claim. Furthermore, 61 percent say the Obama administration has not lived up to their expectations on transparency. Three in 10 say the administration has met their transparency expectations, and seven percent say the administration has exceeded their expectations on transparency.
However, a majority of Americans, 55 percent, say the steady stream of government surveillance stories coming from Edward Snowden’s leaks have not changed the way they view the federal government. Thirty-four percent say the National Security Agency surveillance revelations have decreased their trust in the government and eight percent say it has increased their trust in government.
The public is split on whether or not Mr. Snowden is a hero or a traitor. Thirty-nine percent say Snowden is a "traitor for leaking government secrets" and 35 percent say he is a "patriot" for letting the public know about the government's surveillance programs.
More Americans say the NSA data collection program is a violation of privacy (55 percent) than say it is needed to fight terrorism (33 percent). Nevertheless, the public is mixed on whether other government agencies should have access to the data the NSA collects, and they are selective about which agencies should get the data. Forty-five percent of Americans say the NSA should share private information with the Drug Enforcement Administration in non-terrorism related cases, while the same number say it should not share the information.
The numbers change dramatically for agencies searching for a missing child. In that case, 68 percent of Americans say the NSA should share any information it may have collected with other government agencies. Only a quarter of Americans say the NSA should not share information in the case of a missing child. However, when it comes to sharing information with the Internal Revenue Service, only 28 percent think the NSA should be allowed to share its information, while 65 percent say sharing with the IRS should not be allowed.