National Debt

Fifty Seven Percent of Americans Want Washington to Focus On Reducing Spending

Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem


After billions in bailouts and stimulus spending, recent Reason-Rupe poll results reveal public sentiment has turned against government spending and shifted toward spending cuts. Although many Americans are not necessarily opposed to raising revenues (taxes) in some form or to raising taxes on the wealthy, the consensus wants Washington to focus on spending cuts, rather than on raising revenues.

Seventy seven percent of Americans believe the federal government should have a spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a given year—62 percent believe this strongly. In addition, 69 percent favor a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, with 50 percent strongly favoring such a reform.

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The federal government should have a spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a given year."

Would you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget?

Respondents were asked about their preferred solution to reducing the $14.3 trillion national debt. At 57 percent, the most preferred solution was to focus on reducing spending, and possibly increasing some taxes. Only 23 percent wanted equal emphasis on both tax increases and spending cuts, while only 15 percent wanted to primarily rely on tax increases. Moreover, the plurality response at 37 percent was to decrease spending with no tax increases.

Overall, these results suggest that although the public is not necessarily averse to some revenue increases, the majority wants Washington to focus on reducing government spending.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll's fieldwork. View full methodology.