Cut Foreign Aid, Military Spending

July 26, 2013, 8:57 PM GMT+0

Foreign aid and the military budget are the most popular areas for the federal government to cut spending, but support for Social Security and Medicare cuts is still minimal.

Congress is about to enter into another long bout of sparring over the federal budget, with Congress having to decide on new spending bills and a debt ceiling increase this fall. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a budget which includes significant cuts to a variety of federal programs. Republican leaders have slammed President Obama's increasingly tough stand after he indicated that the administration was not willing to negotiate budget cuts for an increase in the debt ceiling.

The latest YouGov research shows that support for cuts to major federal programs is limited. The largest support is for cutting the foreign aid (68%) and military (46%) budgets. The lowest support is for cutting the amount spent on Social Security (11%) and Medicare (12%).

As ever, these figures conceal a dramatic partisan split. Support for cutting the military budget is strongest among Democrats (58%) and Independents (48%), but only 22% of Republicans want to cut the military budget while 42% think it should be increased.

When asked whether the budget for Medicare - federal health insurance for the elderly - should be cut, a plurality of all three political affiliations instead want spending to increase. Democrats (52%) are the most enthusiastic, while Republicans (35%) have the lowest support for increasing the Medicare budget, though only 14% want to see it cut.

Attitudes towards Medicaid - the federal health plan for the poor - are far more divided. A majority of Democrats (53%) want the Medicaid budget increased, while Independents are split evenly (30% vs 30%) on whether the budget should be cut or increased. Among Republicans, 41% want the budget for Medicaid cut while 18% want it to be increased.

The President and the leadership of the House Republicans - the two major players in the upcoming budget battle - are starting from very different negotiating positions. The President now rejects cuts to major programs such as Social Security and Medicare, saying that major cuts should not be made. The Republican leadership in the house has backed a wide range of cuts that would eliminate federal support for public broadcasters and reverse President Obama's expansion of Medicaid. Republicans say that their plan will save an estimated $2.5 trillion over the next decade. Neither side in the budget fight has proposed significant cuts to military spending, though Republicans do want to reverse the cuts to the military budget that occurred at the beginning of 2013.

Full results can be found here.

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