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UT/NJ poll: Most Americans oppose deep defense spending cuts

The most recent United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll finds that the vast majority of Americans oppose any cuts in the government programs they personally benefit from (i.e. receive money from), and support cutting spending only in what they personally don’t benefit (or at least don’t believe they benefit) from.

The latest edition of this poll has actually found that Americans are “more protective than ever” of these programs.

The poll also finds that, contrary to two widely-reported polls that purported to show a large majority of Americans supporting deep cuts in defense spending, only 15% of men and 19% of women support such a course of action.

79% of Americans oppose any cuts in Medicare. Only 17% would be okay with some cuts in it, and only 3% would like to see “lots of cuts” to it.

Opposition to any reforms or cuts to the program transcend beyond demographic divisions. 71% of men, 87% of women, 93% of non-Hispanic blacks, 78% of whites, and 68% of men over the age of 50 (although that demographic group is more open to cuts than women or younger people).

As the National Journal reports:

The figures were similar for Social Security, the other big, universal entitlement that enjoys widespread popular support.

As with many other surveys, the latest edition of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found more support for cutting so-called means-tested programs that are available only to the poor or lower-middle class. Still, 45 percent of men and 52 percent of women said that the government shouldn’t make any cuts in “food stamps and housing vouchers” that go to poor families. Among white men without a college degree, a once Democratic-leaning group that has become elusive for the party, some 45 percent wanted the government to leave these programs alone.

However, it’s not as if public opinion has swung to a clear defense of expansionist government. Previous editions of the Congressional Connection Poll and other surveys have found stern opposition to the president’s health care law, and especially the mandate that Americans buy health insurance.

The poll also belies the 2 rigged polls produced earlier this year by the liberal CPI/NPR and by the University of Maryland which puported to show majorities (over 60%) of Americans support deep defense spending cuts.

In reality, as the UT/National Journal poll shows, only 19% of men and 15% of women support cutting defense spending “a lot”, while 34% of women and 32% of men say that it shouldn’t be cut at all, and a large plurality (47%) of both men and women take a centrist position, saying that defense spending has to see some cuts and thus to contribute to deficit reduction, but not be cut deeply. Thus, a plurality of Americans want defense to contribute to deficit reduction, but they’re wary of deep cuts, worried (quite rightly) that such cuts would impair the nation’s ability to defend itself (which they would).

And what’s most interesting about these results is that on defense spending, women are at least slightly more conservative than men. This is in stark contrast to the liberal views expressed by most women on other issues. It shows that providing for the common defense has an appeal that transcends gender barriers and, if anything, the necessity to provide for it resonates more strongly with the fairer sex than with men.

(Or maybe most American women simply understand that they cannot bet their children’s and their country’s security on American men breaking free of their defense cuts kool-aid?)

Finally, what this poll also shows is that the vast majority of Americans are trying to have it both ways: they want the federal budget to be balanced and spending to be cut, but at the same time, they’re warning politicians not to even think about touching entitlement programs or other popular federal giveaways, such as food stamps (although the percentage of Americans defending the latter is much lower). The problem is that the budget deficit will never be significantly reduced, let alone eliminated, if entitlement programs are left untouched, because they, by themselves, constitute 63% of all federal spending.

Thus, what the poll shows is that the vast majority of Americans don’t want limited government; they want to continue to receive their government handouts.

The poll’s full results can be found here:

The poll was conducted between Nov. 29th and Dec. 2nd on a sample of 1,003 people.

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