Voters are twice as likely to support deep cuts to defense spending rather than cuts to social programs in order to reduce the nation’s debt, according to a new poll for The Hill.
With only days remaining until $85 billion worth of automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take effect on March 1, a significant 58 percent of respondents said they prioritized cutting the federal budget deficit over maintaining current levels on domestic and military programs. But those respondents also said the budget should be balanced at the expense of the Pentagon, and not cuts to social safety net programs.
In the poll, 49 percent of the public said they would support military-spending cuts, compared to just 23 percent who said the same about Social Security and Medicare. A huge majority – 69 percent – said they would oppose cuts to social programs.
And that sentiment was not divided by party lines – 62 percent of Republicans said they would oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security, compared to 82 percent of Democrats.
Contrary to expectation, a higher percentage of Republicans (62 percent) opposed reductions to social programs than defense cuts (56 percent).
The results are particularly notable as Capitol Hill braces itself for the looming sequester, scheduled to kick in March 1, unless Congress can come to an agreement regarding deficit reduction. Although both Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged the sequester could have damaging effects on the economy – to the point that some even suggest it could push the U.S. back into a recession – neither side has appeared to compromise when it comes to debt.
President Barack Obama outlined a proposal that would involve both new revenues and spending cuts, but Congressional Republicans have refused to consider new taxes as a part of any deal.
The Hill poll, in which 37 percent of respondents said America spends too much on the military, is far from the first to demonstrate that sentiment. A Gallup survey released last week also concluded that about 35 percent of voters believe the U.S. spends too much on defense – an opinion that organization has reported for years – while a January Rasmussen poll concluded 40 percent of voters now believe too much money is being allocated toward national security.