One of the many uncomfortable truths facing Republican politicians these days is that the American public generally favors government spending cuts only in the abstract — but not in reality.
As we get closer to the sequestration deadline, followed a few weeks later by the appropriations deadline that could cause a government shutdown, new polling by Pew reminds everyone why the Republican position is so hard to maintain: people really don’t like spending cuts. In fact, most Americans want to increase spending on most government programs.
That is, people like the idea of spending cuts when they’re discussed generally, in terms of the overall cost of government. But when it gets down to specific programs, suddenly things change.
Here’s what Pew found. When asked about Medicare, 46 percent want to keep spending where it is, but for those wanting a change in spending, those wanting more spending (36 percent) were double the number who wanted less (15). The total who want to keep Medicare spending where it is or increase it: 82 percent.
When asked about spending on environmental protection, 43 percent want to keep spending where it is; 33 percent want more; 22 percent less. The total who want the status quo or more spending: 76 percent.
On education, the total wanting spending the same or higher: 89 percent. The total who want less: 10 percent. On Social Security, the total who want spending the same or higher: 87 percent. The total who want less: 10 percent.