Americans want to get rid of sequestration cuts, new poll finds

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, December 10, 2013

The pressure is on for lawmakers to come up with a new budget deal – and fast – that gets rid of sequestration, according to a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll released Tuesday.

According to the poll, 61 percent would do away with at least some of the automatic spending cuts set to kick in come January, compared to just 18 percent who favored keeping the cuts intact. Those numbers include 29 percent of Americans who would roll back all the cuts, 13 percent who would undo just the cuts to the nation’s defense and military spending budgets and 19 percent who would scrap the cuts to other discretionary spending. Democrats were in general more likely to do away with the cuts entirely, with 39 percent of them favoring that option compared to just 19 percent of Republicans.

Shortly after the 16-day government shutdown ended back in October, House and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) began working on a budget plan that would help eliminate some of the spending cuts already in place for 2014. If a deal isn’t reached by the end of the week, however, it’s very possible that Congress will be forced to pass a resolution keeping spending at sequestration levels, which sits at $967 billion for the current fiscal year.

While Americans seemed somewhat on board with eliminating at least some of the cuts, they are largely split about how they believe the government should pay for the increase spending created by the rollbacks. Only three in ten respondents said that the savings should come from cuts to social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, while 73 percent of those polled believe the money should be collected by eliminating tax credits and deductions for wealthier Americans. The latter proposal was surprisingly supported by majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

The survey also found that among those who only favor eliminating the automatic cuts to defense and military spending, 72 percent of them would balance the budget by cuts to other domestic programs – while 63 percent of Americans who would rather see higher domestic spending levels in 2014 would take that money from defense spending.

Nonetheless, half of those surveyed believe that it’s not worth enacting the cuts if there’s not a source of funding to offset them, while 46 percent of Americans would be comfortable with increasing the federal deficit to pay for the increased spending. While Congress agreed to increase the federal debt ceiling through February 7 as part of the deal to end the government shutdown, a report released by the Congressional Budget Office last month stated that the government likely has until mid-March before it must take immediate action.

United Technologies/National Journal conducted a nationwide study of 1,002 adults via telephone from Dec. 5-8, 2013. The margin of error for the study is +/- 3.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. 

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