COLLEGE PARK, Md. – When it comes to the federal budget, the public is on a different page than either the House of Representatives or the Obama Administration – with a different set of priorities and a greater willingness to cut spending and increase taxes – concludes a new analysis by the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation (PPC).
This new analysis compares the House and administration budget proposals with those produced by a representative sample of U.S. adults. These public budgets were part of an innovative study released last month.
While there were some partisan differences in the magnitude of spending changes, two thirds of the time, the average Republican, Democrat and Independent in the survey agreed on the items that should be cut or increased.
"Clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House are out of step with the public's values and priorities in regard to the budget," said University of Maryland School of Public Policy researcher Steven Kull, who conducted the study and directs the Program for Public Consultation (PPC). "Our respondents would more than double funding for job training and cut deeply on defense."
While the time frames of the three budgets are not the same, the comparison still reflects substantial differences in priorities and approaches used by the respondents, the House and the administration, Kull added. The public's response was based on the projected budget for 2015, while the House budget and President Obama's were relative to figures for the current fiscal year.
"The budget allocations represent a clear expression of values and priorities, even if the time frames differ," Kull said.
PPC is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Unlike conventional polls, PPC research "consults" with the public – presenting respondents information on policy issues, followed by a range of options to address them. In this case respondents were presented the discretionary budget, with descriptions of each program, and allowed to make changes.
MAJOR FINDINGS - SPENDING
For more altruistic forms of aid, the public makes little change overall, but shifts funds around – increasing humanitarian aid by 18 percent, cutting development assistance 14 percent and leaving spending on global health essentially unchanged. The president cuts humanitarian assistance eight percent, while increasing global health funding 11 percent, and increasing development assistance 12 percent. The House cuts humanitarian assistance 17 percent, global health six percent and development assistance 18 percent.
MAJOR FINDINGS – TAXES
A complete report on the new analysis is available online: http://public-consultation.org/index.html
The original study, which produced the public results, was fielded December 18-29 with a sample of 793 respondents (margin of error plus or minus 3.5 percent). It was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. This complete report is also available online: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb11/Budget_Feb11_rpt.pdf
Researcher, PPC Director
Senior Media Relations Associate
University of Maryland
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