Poll: Public opposes most spending cuts

A majority of the public opposes most spending cuts, especially cutbacks to education and popular entitlement programs, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The Gallup poll showed that over 60 percent oppose cuts to Medicare, Social Security and education funding. A majority supports less speding in only one of nine areas polled: foreign aid, which 59 percent favor reducing. 

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The results incidate that Congress could face pushback from potential voters when it begins debate on a federal budget in the coming weeks. 

Republicans, who now control the House and possess greater number in the Senate, have come under pressure from new members to implement steep spending cuts in order to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Leaders, such as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have called for tens of billions of budget cuts arguing that even popular programs need to be cut in order to restore fiscal balance.

Slimmer majorities also oppose cuts to farming aid, arts and sciences funding and anti-poverty programs, some of which have been targeted by Republicans.

But the GOP is also likely to point to the Congressional Budget Office's estimate released Wednesday that the deficit will widen to $1.5 trillion this year, a new record, as reason to carve out big chunks from the budget.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama offered an olive branch to fiscal conservatives by proposing a five-year non-defense discretionary spending freeze coupled with a pledge to veto legislation with earmark spending attached. The White House plans to unfurl Obama's budget plan on Feb. 14.

But he offered few specifics as to how the cuts could eat into the budget deficit and only gave passing mention to Social Security and Medicare, which have long been the third rail of American politics. Obama also proposed targeted spending increases for areas like education and infrastructure. 

Cuts that some liberal Democrats want to make, however, are also unpopular. Fifty-six percent of the public opposes cuts to homeland security and 57 percent do not want military and national defense cuts.

The poll of 1,032 adults was taken between Jan. 14-16 and it has a margin of error of four percentage points.