Government Spending

Poll: 65% of Americans Support Balanced Budget Amendment


A Sachs/Mason Dixon poll released today [PDF] has found that "65 percent of the public supports" a balanced budget amendment, "with 27 percent opposed, [and] 8 percent undecided." By party affiliation, that breaks down as "81 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats."

This jibes with the first-ever Reason-Rupe Poll, which found that 74 percent of Americans think that the federal government needs some kind of spending cap to keep expenditures in line with revenues. Percentage breakdown there among R/I/D: 85/76/64. Here, visualize it:

Pass it around!

Much more at our Poll link.

Here's my litmus test: When a majority of Americans are more radical than I am on some fiscal issues, then we are living in interesting times indeed. There are tangible votes available to politicians who realize just how fed up voters are with government overreach, though who knows how long that will take to penetrate the thick skulls in Washington.

First link via the Twitter feed of Stephen Hayes.

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  1. Such an amendment would probably have an “emergency” exemption to allow deficit spending in war, etc. This means that we’d just always be in a perpetual “emergency.”

    1. So when the giant space ants attack and NASA asks for money for their emergency plan to save America, you would rather an ironclad spending cap tells the nerds they can’t build their giant cans of Raid unless Congress makes offsetting spending cuts first? Have fun in toiling in the underground sugar caves.

      1. I despise bugs. Especially big bugs.

        OK, now I have to buy a truckload of borax to kill the giant ant aliens.

      2. False choice. Grandpa can do without his viagra subsidy until the galactic extermination is complete.

        On second thought, “underground sugar caves” sound kinda nice.

      3. I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

      4. Have fun in toiling in the underground sugar caves.

        These Space Ants must see our friend SugarFree as a very serious threat. The horribly offensive pen truly is mightier than the sword.

  2. And 80% of Americans don’t want their taxes raised or benefits cut.

    1. This. These surveys mean nothing. Everyone wants the government to be more efficient and responsible, but not if it means they lose their special goodies. Argh.

    2. This is why so-called “benefits” are so insidious. It’s also what leadership is supposed to be for.

      But no matter, bankruptcy will take of the problems that the government can’t. Medicare runs out of money in just 13 years, if not sooner.

  3. just as long as you don’t cut their medicare,S.S, farm subsidies,ect…

  4. Those numbers won’t stay up when people realize that preventing the government from spending money it doesn’t have actually MEANS preventing the government from spending money it doesn’t have. To most, it sounds great in a vaccum, when they think that the government is just overspending because it’s wasting money on foreign aid and salmon farms, but when this ammendment gets in the way of spending for their wars or social programs support will drop off fast.

    1. Numbers were created by the damn prehistoric Mexicans to steal jobs from the Romans.

  5. Welfare for me,high taxes for thee

  6. Matt, we may have no way of telling if or when they’ll get it through their skulls, but we can be certain that whatever makes it through is gonna be one goddamned lonely idea in a vast empty space.

  7. People support cutting government spending as long as it isn’t the spending that they like.

    So they will all agree that spending should be cut as long as it doesn’t result in any of them losing their job or their benefit check.

    Except that all government spending is in the form of a job or a benefit check.

    Significant cuts are a political impossibility.

    1. there are those of us who don’t get anything that would be OK with cutting everything.

      1. You are in a minority.

        The majority of Americans directly rely on federal spending or have family that does. This includes entitlements, direct government employment (that includes the sacred military), and government contracting.

        So those who say they want the federal government to spend less, as long as it doesn’t affect them or their family.

        “Get your government hands off my Medicare!”

      2. You don’t use anything? You don’t drive on roads? You don’t call 911 when KFC gets your order wrong? You don’t fly to Somalia?

  8. And the government would no doubt give this new Amendment the same respect it gives the other ones.

  9. So a majority of Americans are crankier than Matt Welch, huh? I think I’d better move to Takoma Park, where I’ll be safe.

  10. It is quickly coming to the point that we, the people, probably ought to get serious about imposing some external controls on those that have forgotten that THEY work for US. Because they’re certainly not paragons of self discipline, in just about anything.

    Also, the entire funding stream paradigm needs to be re-engineered, badly. While I readily admit to no idea on how to get from point A to desired point B on this, the very attitude of how the government functions needs to be overhauled. I’m fine with Congress acting as the approval source for funding use, but they should be limited, a hard limit, to the actual amount of revenue raised from the previous year. No more planning to spend money they don’t even have yet. And when it runs out, it runs out. There needs to be a shift in the Federal mentality of ‘spend, spend, and spend some more!’ – with people’s jobs actually becoming dependent upon the competent management of the funds and resources they are granted. Make career advancement dependent upon running one’s task as efficiently as possible – to the point that if something was over-budgeted for a given period, that bearuacrats would actually be rewarded for returning unused funding, instead of the current system, with it’s end of fiscal year orgy of unaccounted and unaccountable spending sprees by everyone fearing retribution because they did a job of good stewardship with the responsibilities they are paid to manage.

    As it is now, there are probably a few folks out there that wish the Azores landslide and tsunami scenario could come true, but somehow get all the water channeled up the Potomac. . .

    1. Business analogies don’t work with the feds, because they don’t create anything. The system you describe, would become just as corrupt as every other government initiative.

      Bureaucrats looking for a pay bump, would be able to game the system by simply requesting a budget larger than what they actually need. This would allow the bureaucrats to send the “unused savings” back, and collect their cut.

      Budgets should be based on a percentage of tax revenue. Instead of giving an agency X amount of dollars each year, they get X% of the tax revenue. Not enough money? Tough, make it work.

  11. What everyone else said. The sad thing is, I don’t understand how the budget has not dropped back down after these big spending packages, e.g. bailout and stimulus. I don’t want to sound hopelessly na?ve, but shouldn’t the annual expenditures have decreased afterwards?

  12. Of course, why wouldnt they? Makes perfect sense.

  13. I’m sure the congress critters will get right on this. Everyone knows how much congress loves to limit it’s own power.

    1. I assume it will go something like this

  14. More important would be to cap revenues.

  15. There are tangible votes available to politicians who realize just how fed up voters are with government overreach, though who knows how long that will take to penetrate the thick skulls in Washington.

    It sounds as if you don’t understand how “democracy” works.

    There are many more votes and a lot more money if you just keep spending. All you have to do is hope you’ll be out of Dodge by the time it all blows up.

    And if you were elected to congress, why wouldn’t you keep doing this? Because hell, everybody else is going to do it anyway.

    There are things democracy is good at doing. Public debate etc etc.

    The problem with “democracy”, is that it gives our elected “leaders” no “incentive” to do anything real about the kinds of problems we have, right now, today.

    These problems will not be solved until we reform the whole structure under which our leaders get into, and stay in, office.

  16. I’ve got $20 that says all these polls about how Americans are really, really fiscally responsible and conservative are the best possible illustration of the difference between stated and revealed preferences.

    Stated preference: fiscal conservatism, balanced budgets, spending cuts, blah blah.

    Revealed preference: votes for politicians who will not balance the budget, cut spending, etc. etc.

  17. Again and again I am told that my fellow Americans really support free markets, capitalism, individual responsibility, freedom, and smaller, less intrusive government.

    That’s nice.

    Can somebody please tell me why these idiots keep voting for people like Harry Reid and Olympia Snowe, then????

    W T F???????????????

  18. I am quickly losing all faith in the competence of the human race.

  19. I am quickly losing all faith in the competence of the human race.

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