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Posted at 9:43 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Poll: Deficits haven't changed public priorities

By Peyton M. Craighill

UPDATE: This post has been edited to reflect a data change from the National Opinion Research Center regarding public priorities for spending on health.

Despite the fierce political battle over federal spending and budget cutting, a newly released poll confirms that little changed in American spending priorities between 2008 and 2010, the heart of the recession.

In the just released poll from the General Social Survey, far more people said the United States is spending "too little" rather than "too much" on a variety of social programs and issues.

The poll, a leading chronicler of behaviors and social values, was conducted in the spring of 2010. It found only five items for which more people say we are spending too much rather than too little -- the military, the space program, assistance to big cities, welfare and foreign aid. And among these, foreign aid was the only one for which a majority -- 63 percent -- said we are spending too much.

For many of the programs, no more than 1 in 10 said we are spending too much. Notable on the list is that 19 percent said we are spending too much on improving and protecting the nation's health. That's an 11-point increase since 2008 and the largest movement for any of the items. Despite this increase, still 60 percent said we are spending too little in this area.

Outside of health, there has been little movement. But there has been some increases on the number of people saying we are spending too much on cities. Twenty percent said too much is being spent on "solving the problems of big cities," up from 13 percent in 2008. And 38 percent said the same on "assistance for big cities," up from 33 percent in 2008.

Over a third -- 35 percent -- complained about the amount spent on military and defense, but that is down from 40 percent in 2008.

The full details, including trend results back to 1973, are posted on the University of Chicago's Web site.

By Peyton M. Craighill  | March 9, 2011; 9:43 PM ET
Categories:  Federal Budget Deficit  
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