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The Budget: What Would You Cut?

As President Obama and Congress begin to hash out the 2012 budget, it is a good time to revisit results from our January 2011 survey showing that in spite of the fact that most Americans report being very concerned about the budget deficit, there is little public support for major reductions across a number of program areas. Majorities said they would not support any reductions in Social Security (64 percent), public education (63 percent), or Medicare (56 percent), and nearly half (47 percent) do not support reductions in Medicaid. In other areas of spending, results are more mixed. For example, when it comes to national defense, unemployment insurance, aid to farmers, and food stamps, about four in ten would support “minor” reductions and another roughly two in ten would support “major” reductions. The only program in which the majority of Americans would accept major cuts: foreign aid.

Over Half Oppose Cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Education; About Half to Medicaid

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to support spending reductions. While clear majorities of Democrats are opposed to cuts in Medicare (65 percent) or Medicaid (58 percent), Republicans are more willing to see some reductions. On the flip side, Republicans are more protective of national defense, with 52 percent supporting no reductions, compared to only 31 percent of Democrats. Independents generally fall in between Democrats and Republicans in their support for funding cuts.

Some Agreement Among Partisans About Areas to Protect

The complete report, including more questions about the budget deficit, chartpack and methodology of the poll can be viewed online.