Wednesday, March 09, 2011

And The Survey Sayz

A new Bloomberg survey has come out about Americans' opinions on the priorities the government should have and on which programs to cut or whether tax cuts should be repealed.

The write-up of the survey is tilted. Rather beautifully, in fact. It begins by pointing out that people don't understand the federal budget and that they would like to cut items which aren't going to make very large savings (such as foreign aid which is only about 1% of the total budget). Then it goes on to remind us of what really matters:

While Americans say it’s important to improve the government’s fiscal situation, among the few deficit-reducing moves they back are cutting foreign aid, pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year.


More than 7 in 10 respondents say slashing foreign aid and pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan would result in substantial savings, and large majorities back such moves. Yet foreign aid accounts for about 1 percent of federal spending, and the Pentagon requested $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, less than 5 percent of Obama’s $3.83 trillion federal budget.
Fewer than half of respondents say cutting Medicare benefits or raising the age at which Americans receive Social Security retirement benefits would have a large impact on the deficit, and only 2 in 10 favor cutting Medicare benefits. Such entitlements account for about 40 percent of the budget and are the main drivers of the long-term deficit.
Notice something odd? The tax cut alternative disappeared from the conversation! I had a look at the methods and results section (on the left side of the article itself) and found out that 59% of those surveyed wanted the Bush tax cuts for the rich repealed. But the summary forgets about that.

It also forgets about this question (the numbers are the percentages supporting each alternative):
Spending on defense, Medicare, and Social Security account for about two-thirds of the federal budget. Cuts may need to be made in these areas in order to achieve substantial deficit reduction. Which would be your top priority for cuts: (Read list.)
49 Cut defense even if it means eliminating programs that bring jobs to your state
19 Cut Medicare even if it means you would lose some benefits
22 Cut Social Security even if it means you would lose some benefits..
The defense cuts somehow never got into the summary, either. Which proves my point about the tilt.