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Pew: Deficit Solutions Meet With Public Skepticism

December 9, 2010

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In this report, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press explains that there is public consensus on federal budget issues in principle, but resistance along partisan lines when plans are put into practice.

In many respects, there is a broad public consensus when it comes to the federal budget deficit: seven-in-ten say it is a major problem that must be addressed right away, and roughly two-thirds say that the best way to reduce the deficit is through a combination of cutting major government programs and increasing taxes. These views cross partisan lines, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents saying we must deal with it now, and that the best approach involves both program cuts and tax increases.

Yet this general consensus evaporates when concrete deficit reduction proposals are tested. And the Bowles-Simpson commission's effort to package spending cuts and tax increases into a comprehensive package has met with far more public opposition than support. Among those who have heard of the deficit commission's proposal, 48% disapprove and just 30% approve.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5 among 1,500 adults finds that the deficit commission is not the only group that faces public skepticism when it comes to deficit reduction proposals. Neither Republican nor Democratic congressional leaders have much credibility on this issue, with majorities saying they have little or no confidence in each when it comes to dealing with the deficit. Obama is viewed more positively, by comparison, with a slim majority expressing at least a fair amount of confidence in his leadership on the deficit.

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