Government Reform

74 Percent of Americans Want a Federal Spending Cap


The Hill reports

Republican lawmakers responded to the government hitting its debt limit with proposals for spending caps. The Treasury Department announced Monday that it was tapping into a pair of government employee pension funds as it reached its borrowing capacity. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) both responded to the news by touting their spending-cap proposals as the way to rein in the nation's debt.

…Corker's plan would set a cap on discretionary and mandatory spending, which would eventually lower the current spending rate of 24.7 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) to 20.6 percent. If lawmakers fail to meet that cap, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would be required to make cuts throughout the federal budget to meet the prescribed limit. 

…Kingston's plan would go even further than Corker's, capping spending at 18 percent of GDP. Like Corker's plan, it would also require OMB to make across-the-board cuts to get spending to meet that cap if lawmakers cannot. Both proposals would require a two-thirds majority in Congress to override the caps.

The recent Reason-Rupe national telephone survey of 1,200 adults found that over 74 percent of Americans say the federal government should have spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a fiscal year. Sixty-four percent of Democrats support implementing a spending cap, as do 76 percent of independents and nearly 85 percent of Republicans. 

Agree with a Federal Spending Cap

Just 19 percent of Americans say they "strongly disagree" or "disagree" with capping federal spending. Slightly more than a quarter of Democrats, 27.5 percent, are against a federal spending cap. And opposition to a government spending cap drops significantly from there: only 17 percent of independents and 10 percent of Republicans oppose a cap. 

Reason-Rupe Poll Federal Spending Cap

NEXT: Will the White House Smoke Weed With Willie Again?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. 74 Percent of Americans Want a Federal Spending Cap

    Do I take that seriously? I’d like to see that compared to a poll with the percentage of Americas that want their benefits cut.

    1. I do, I do! If I don’t have to pay taxes on them, and they aren’t coming out of someone else’s pocket.

      Plus, free market solves *everything*.

    2. How about a poll with the percentage of Americans that want to live forever?

      That’ll have as much to do with reality.

    3. Paging Mr. Gramm-Rudman-Hollings.…..09709.html

  2. And the cap should be the total amount of federal revenue that was taken in the previous fiscal year.

    1. ^^^ This.

    2. I agree in principle, but propose: 90% of the total amount of federal revenue that was taken in the previous fiscal year via a “fair tax”. You know, get more serious.

  3. Hey Ron Paul wants to sell the gold in fort knox rather than raise the debt ceiling. It would keep us going for a couple of months, I think.

    1. I think he said that because he doesn’t believe there is any gold in Fort Knox.

  4. 74 Percent of Americans Want a Federal Spending Cap

    Except when it involves any sacrifice on their part.

  5. The Treasury Department announced Monday that it was tapping into a pair of government employee pension funds as it reached its borrowing capacity.

    Big deal, we raid private pensions

    1. I told you we still had plenty of money!

      1. I smiled with a mixture of amusement and dismay when I heard Michael Moore make the exact same argument Mao Zedong made.

  6. Just curious- how was the poll conducted, how were the questions phrased, etc?

    1. Did you ever see that episode of ST:TNG where Picard was supposed to see five lights?

      1. We’ll just have to try with the female.

      2. Sounds vaguely familiar…that wasn’t the one with the weird game, was it?

          1. Wow, a double double post followed by the end of a triple post.

            Best start getting your affairs in order for May 21 kids.

            1. Signs and Portents, BITCHEZZZ!

        1. No, you’re thinking of the one where Data cured everyone by flashing a strobe light at them. The reference is to the two parter where Picard gets tortured. “Chains of Command,” I think.

        2. No, you’re thinking of the one where Data cured everyone by flashing a strobe light at them. The reference is to the two parter where Picard gets tortured. “Chains of Command,” I think.

        3. It was the one where the Cardassians (sp?) were torturing Picard.

          1. Which one, Kim or Khloe?

  7. 95% of Americans will vote for a politician who would never try for a spending cap.

    1. 95% of voters, you mean.

  8. Some instances where government spending has had a positive effect:

    Labour standards
    -Education system
    -Protection of human rights
    -Physical infrastructure
    -Programs to assist the most vulnerable
    -Marketplace regulation aimed at protecting consumers and investors
    -Health insurance available to all
    -Protection of the natural environment
    -Planning for future social needs

    1. Sacre Bleu! I am glad you like swearing cause you are going to hear a lot more 😉

      1. pics or gtfo

    2. I’m calling spoof or idiot on this.

    3. Sacre Spew!

      1. name calling is not evidence to the contrary.

        1. Sacre Boring!

          1. epi, you are too churlish for artful games

          2. Pepe Re Pue

        2. You didn’t provide any evidence in support, just a list of things you think are important that you think the government does well enough to justify the opportunity cost of the money taken through taxes.

          1. It’s hard to imagine that you would have enjoyed the success you have without living in a society where government has provided the basic physical and social infrastructure to allow people to succeed.

            1. I agree that you lack imagination.

              1. you live in a fairy tale.

                1. Let’s dissect this, then, shall we, so that you can stop posting this list.

                  Labour standards

                  Well, better wages, hours, etc. were already well on the way by the time the Federal government got around to enacting them. Carpenters and joiners had won the 8 hour day in the early 1890s, typographers by 1905, etc. all without government mandated labor standards or arbitration. State governments had, in certain localities, enacted protections for women and/or children workers. Now, unskilled industrial workers were less lucky, but certain industrialists such as Ford had enacted the eight hour day AND higher wages (Ford did in 1914). GM workers staged their famous sit down strike in 1935, two years before the eight hour day was enacted nationwide. While government was able to universalize conditions, many of their reforms (such as a minimum wage) were economically unnecessary; Germany to this day has no minimum wage and few would portray the plight of German workers as something to be lamented.

                  -Education system

                  The United States had a rather high literacy rate even before the advent of public schools mostly by immigrants sending their children to parochial schools, which to this day produce better results for cheaper than government run schools.

                  -Protection of human rights

                  Actually, I will give you this one. The government can and should have a monopoly on the administration of justice and the ability to punish those who would violate another’s right to either life, property, or liberty.

                  -Physical infrastructure

                  While many on this board do favor private roads, I will say that I am not entirely against public infastructure that usefully helps the economy (the Hoover Dam, the irrigation of the Colorado River so you damn Californians can steal our water, etc.) However, most of the physical infastructure the government builds is often produced inefficently and corruptly, which should come as now suprise because the original point of public works projects in the U.S. was mostly for the benefit of machine politics. Anyone driving from New Mexico to Colorado along I-25 can probably name the corrider that I am thinking of that has been “under construction” for years. And if you’re thinking of rail, the trans-con railroad paid by the mile, so companies were incentivized to lay more, not better, track. In fact, the most efficient railroads in the country were built by private business.

                  -Programs to assist the most vulnerable

                  Which program specifically? Welfare, which has done so little with so much money to lift people out of poverty (its original goal)? Or Medicaid, which is so good that doctor’s often refuse to take Medicaid patients because the reimbursement rates are so low? Maybe you mean Head Start, which doesn’t do anything to improve educational outcomes (okay, technically it does, but its more because getting your kid in Head Start is an indication that you give a shit about education, and families who do produce smarter kids)?

                  -Marketplace regulation aimed at protecting consumers and investors

                  Which regulations specifically pray tell? No, really, because even in the days of caveat emptor, most food that was sold was safe, as were most toys, etc. etc. Admittedly, most medicine was dubious at best, but in a time of less advanced pharmacology, what remedy was there for pain but morphine (hint: not a lot)?

                  -Health insurance available to all

                  Hey! Wait a minute! The U.S. doesn’t have this, and even nations who do have this are often forced to ration this resource because, just like anything else, healthcare is not unlimited. Therefore, while the government may cover x, it often does not cover y, and this is therefore a conditional right at best based on the amount of money in the coffers (In the United States at the moment, that amount would be broke).

                  -Protection of the natural environment

                  Yes, because private hunters never preserve land for hunting (Hint: Most state funding for wilderness comes from sportsman permits. It’s essentially a usage fee) and the early days of the Sierra Club totally didn’t involve buying lands and putting it in trusts. Also, the Sagebrush Revolution never ever happened.

                  -Planning for future social needs

                  I totallty agree with this one, actually. I mean, without the government, how would our country be facing 40+ trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, mostly to entitlement programs? That’s some good planning right there.

                  Sacre Bleu, you can pick your ass up at the next window. I’ll hand it to you.

                  1. Also, after living in Colorado for a few years, let me just reiterate: Drink deep, Greater American Southwest and California. That is OUR Goddamn water.

                    1. I’ve been to Colorado, and let me tell you that the only useful aspect of Colorado water is its presence in the good beer that the area produces (particularly the porters, as I am known to have affinity for). Although admittedly, my last visit to Denver had me drinking far more vodka over at Red Square, which is quite the place.

                  2. Some instances where government spending has had a positive effect

                    I wouldn’t concede the regulatory or executive/legal categories. IMO — and I think this is standard — we generally wouldn’t consider those government actions as “government spending” within the standard vernacular of modern political debate. Those actions require public monies, but it’s not government spending properly understood. It’s government intervention through legislative actions and enforcement by the executive and its enforcement agencies.

                    Put it this way: If I told you consumer protection legislation or a civil rights suit and its subsequent enforcement was government spending, what would you say?

                    1. Fair enough Rock Action. I do just find it a bit irritating, even as a small government type, to not admit that the government can have an economic effect vis a vie Keynesian spending.

                      Now, whether Keynesian spending can truly lead us out of deep recessions, whether it is the most effective way to deal with those recessions, and whether it is efficient is open for debate, but just as a private business spending fuck tons can stimulate an economy, so too can the government. Whether this a good idea or not I think is the more central question.

                    2. At first glance, I agree with you. Government spending is going to have some effect. That may be why I thought clarifying what we think of as spending vs. what we think of as intervention was important. It wasn’t really a critique of you, it was a critique of Sacre’s inclusion of a laundry list of desirable government actions — including those that aren’t traditionally thought of as spending — as proof that society derives benefits from government spending.

                  3. Shit yeah, Au H2O.

                  4. “Germany to this day has no minimum wage and few would portray the plight of German workers as something to be lamented”

                    Let me elaborate on this. Till the early 2000s labor unions in Germany were strictly against a minimum wage. They were dedicated to the “Tarifautonomie” which is Germany’s system of collective bargaining (simplification: unions and employer associations establish sector-wide pay-scales. Though not everyone participates in the system). Not perfect but IMHO better than a general minimum wage. Sadly that changed and now the union association favors a wage of 8.50? (about 12 bucks). The current compromise is that for certain sectors (where labor supposedly needs to be especially protected) a specific minimum wage can be set.

                    Textbook example anecdote: The postal system was deregulated recently (package delivery had been deregulated for quite some time – you might know DHL) and several of the new competitors of the old state-run postal service were driven out of business when a minimum wage was introduced. Result: less competition, more unemployed. Color me surprised.

                2. you live in a fairy tale.

                  “[N]ame calling is not evidence to the contrary.”

                3. You have no room to talk about others living in fairy tales.

    4. Get your own handle!

    5. simplistic to the point of being asinine

  9. Or we can simply wait until benefits are cut by default.

  10. And what percentage of Americans also don’t want to see their taxes increased or their SS/Medicare benefits cut?

    Guess how that ends up.

  11. This poll is as useless as my tits.

    That is all.

    1. pics or gtfo

        1. I hate you.

          1. Well, that was an unfortunate mouse click to be sure.

            1. Unsettling *and* NSFW.

  12. Off topic: Did TNG and the subsequent films abandon the notion that Troi was half-Betazed (much like they abandoned the sexy unitards)?

    1. They mostly phased out Troi’s telepathic abilities after the first few seasons by infrequently using them. I guess they realized that having her “read” every ship they encountered in the first season was stupid and repetitive.

      They just continued that trend into the movies.

      1. plus they let Jonathan Frakes direct.

      2. she sensed emotion, not thoughts. Her mother was a full telepath

        1. and Perrin can smell emotions. Big deal.

            1. ooh, WOT thread!

      3. Wait, didn’t they re-introduce the telepathic shit in “Nemesis”?

        1. I barely paid attention during Nemesis. It was extremely derivative. But yeah, she still has the ability; it’s just that they very infrequently have her use it to further the plot.

          It was a dumb thing to introduce in the first place, as it’s too broad and powerful of an ability, and actually makes writing the episodes more difficult, because now they had to go “why can’t Troi just see this coming?” and actually have to make up tortured explanations why.

      4. They also phased out Troi’s cameltoe, which was one of her few redeeming qualities.

        1. for someone with dicktits, I wouldn’t have thought you would notice a little cameltoe

          1. Who couldn’t notice that thing? Although Ishara may have had a bigger one.

            1. Was that Linda Hamilton using a pseudonym?

          2. What the hell are dicktits?

            1. Nevermind.

              I now hate sloopyinca

        2. They didn’t phase out Beverly’s, unfortunately.

          1. ewww

          2. Don’t lie. Those were a nice set of lips.

            1. [golf clap]

      5. Some of the early encounters almost wrote themselves.

        1. Worf: They’ve locked onto us, Captain.
        2. Picard: Go to yellow alert. Raise shields and arm photon torpedoes.
        3. Troi: Captain, I sense hostility.
        4. Rearrange next time. Maybe kill Ensign Expendable this time.

        She wound up stating something that either violated a bunch of storytelling principles (viewer must be capable of solving a mystery, solutions should be found through logic instead of mysticism, etc.) or was just stupid-obvious.

        1. Libertarians have a difficult time focusing.

      6. well, the trolls just ruined WoT for me…nahhh the 4,238 character did that.

  13. I don’t get this money thing. The Chinese have all the money. It’s not like owing money to your brother-in-law. What’s a debt ceiling? I have no idea.

  14. I was too hot to keep on

    1. You were sent back to the rape-squads on your home colony, and in return, they sent the tapes to Roddenberry.

    2. I thought they got rid of Yar because they had too many dudes on the bridge.

      1. Wait, Yar was a dude? Oh, well, it was the best head I got on the Farpoint mission.

        1. Haha. You homo.


        2. Haha. You homo.


  15. The state can and should be used to ensure equality of opportunity. To blame all of society’s ills on the state and conclude that everything the state does is worthless is simplistic to the point of being asinine… it demonstrates the same capacity for rational thought and critical analysis as a Marxist who pins the blame for everything that goes wrong on the capitalist system

    1. simplistic to the point of being asinine

    2. The state can and should be used to ensure equality of opportunity.

      I agree. Abortion should be outlawed.

      1. I demand that they change your ability to pee standing

          1. Ohhhh, didn’t you just possibly give that away…

          2. Mein Gott. You can’t even post a link without government assistance.

          3. No, reductio ad chirurgia

    3. There is no way to “ensure” equality of opportunity. Not without shitcanning the entire Constitution, that is.

  16. Who wrote this thing, anyway?

    1. [hangs head in shame]

      Sorry ’bout the dicktits.

      1. What’s to be sorry about?

        1. You know what? You’re right.

            1. And women are an unholy hybrid of chattering hens and mindless cows.

        2. LANEL: Are you really an alien? It’s all right to tell me.
          RIKER: No, I’m not an alien.
          LANEL: I don’t believe you. You are an alien.
          RIKER: I really have to leave.
          LANEL: I could divert the guard’s attention. You might stand a chance if you took the service exit down the hallway to the right.
          RIKER: To the right? Fine, let’s do it.
          LANEL: Why should I?
          RIKER: Well, you know why. I don’t belong here. I have to get back on my ship, in space.
          LANEL: I believe you.
          RIKER: Now, will you help me?
          LANEL: If you make love to me.
          RIKER: What?
          LANEL: I’ve always wanted to make love with an alien.
          RIKER: Listen, Miss …
          LANEL: Lanel.
          RIKER: Lanel, I really have to get going. All the other aliens are waiting for me.
          LANEL: Oh, it’s not so much to ask, and then I’ll help you escape.
          RIKER: It’s not that easy. There are differences in the way that my people make love.
          LANEL: I can’t wait to learn.
          (she takes of her spectacles)
          RIKER: But it’s …
          LANEL: It’s your only way out of here, my alien.

          1. Eh, Picard/Kirk is a WAY better pairing.

            Yeah, try getting that one out of your head before you sleep tonight.

            1. Except that’s all fan fiction and this was from a real episode (starts at 5:40).

              Glad at least Spoonman appreciates Star Trek’s nonchalant use of a serious sex crime as a minor plot device.

          2. The most hilarious scene in Star Trek.

  17. Interesting post. I’ll have to keep it in mind, because its difficult to find such tremendous info also It’ll obviously be challenging, so I can use all the help I can get..

  18. This is not a workable idea. Down right dumb. Every time the economy would hit a weak spot Gov spending as a percentage GDP would go up even if spending does not and force a reduction in spending/GDP by the Gov that in turn would cause an unbreakable downward chain reaction in the economy. That is way no other sane nation has such a thing. Allowing Gov share of GDP to rise to 24% in 1983 saved Reagan’s presidency and the economy.

    1. But the US was in a recession in 1982 not 1983. The economy grew in every quarter in 1983. Further, government spending is not the main driver or even a major driver of economic growth. If it were, the economy would be booming right now.

      1. See, this is all becoming clear to me now. Rove, knowing that the wars would become unpopular and that a Republican successor to Bush was very unlikely, laid the seeds in 2005 to destroy the economy. He and Bush collaborated to set Obama up for failure that would guarantee a Republican win in 2012. They failed, however, to consult Scripture properly–their minds were clouded–and instead set up the Antichrist for his post-May 21 appointment with destiny.

        I hope someone live-tweets the Rapture on Saturday.

        1. Take out the scripture part and you could be a very popular KOS diarist with that theory.

          1. I find blending diametrically opposed crazy to be more rewarding.

    2. Damn! I can’t get off this keynesian krack!

    3. John Maynard Keynes born 1883 and began his publishing career in economics in 1913.

      US per capita income in 1990 dollars in 1913 $5,301.

      US per capita income in 1990 dollars in 1820 $1,257.……

      In the 97 years before Keynes began enlightening the world with his wisdom the US somehow managed to improve its per capita wealth nearly five fold. How did we do it? Luck I guess.

  19. Technically, isn’t the debt ceiling a kind of spending cap in its own right? I mean, it sure seems to be capping some spending right now, although our parasitic government has turned to robbing pension funds outright in order to extend its spending spree a little further. (If those were public pensions they were plundering, I’d be all in favor of that kind of looting, but I guess those parasites aren’t about to start drinking their own blood, are they?)

  20. Maybe a little bit of critical thinking would help you realize that a playwright of Mamet’s stature wouldn’t be nearly as successful if it weren’t for the intellectual & social infrastructure provided by the state?

    1. Did we not have successful playwrights and artists before the New Deal? Last I looked we did. In fact we seem to have something like 5000 years of art and culture before the rise of the 20th Century bureaucratic state.

      And if you mean to imply that Mamet needs a “state” of some size that does things like enforces laws and ensures domestic stability, then you are saying nothing since no one here is an anarchist.

  21. who are the 19% of poll respondents who think the government should have no spending cap? (Besides Krugman, that is)

    1. They thought they were being asked about the NFL salary cap.

      1. Fucking Cowboys fans….

  22. What percent want a federal *thinking* cap?

    Wait, don’t poll that!

  23. lol, American Givernment could care less what its Sheeple want. They are too busy wasting endless billins in places it has no business.

  24. This poll is a waste of time and money. Everyone says they are for spending cuts, spending caps, balanced budgets, etc. This is all just empty rhetoric. When you actually propose something specific, support always drops below 50% (unless we talking about foreign aid or something else that is tiny part of the budget).

    1. Exactly, the problem most people have with government spending isn’t that it’s too high, per se, it’s that it’s getting spent on the wrong programs (or people).

  25. As with all things, the details matter here.

    While a general pay-go policy is a good idea, I think a simplistic “should have spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a fiscal year” is likely to create problems that could be avoided. Even states with balanced budget rules don’t adhere to this kind of plan (rainy day funds are the norm, I believe).

    This poll seems to say that Americans don’t think about issues like this very carefully.

  26. Why has no one brought up the automatic tax increases in awhile? Was the idea dropped by the Obama admin? ::crosses fingers::


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.