Large majority of voters concerned over debt following spending deal: poll

Large majority of voters concerned over debt following spending deal: poll
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A week after President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE and congressional leaders agreed to a spending deal that would add billions to the national debt, a new poll shows that Americans are concerned about the nation’s fiscal situation.

Some 83 percent of Americans surveyed for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's monthly Fiscal Confidence Index said that they think politicians should spend more time addressing America’s booming debt. Slightly more than half — 56 percent — said that efforts are going in the wrong direction while just 33 percent said efforts to deal with the debt are on track.

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The amount of voters concerned over the debt has increased to 62 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted by telephone among 1,002 registered voters between July 22 and 25. Its results have a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

“The vast majority of voters across party lines are urging lawmakers to stop piling on to our already high national debt,” said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peterson Foundation, a debt advocacy group that tracks sentiment on the issue.

The bipartisan deal, which passed in the House last week and is expected to be taken up in the Senate in the coming days, suspended the debt limit for two years and increased spending for 2020 by roughly $50 billion over current levels.

In comparison to legal spending caps that would have slashed spending 10 percent, the agreement increased the deficit trajectory by $1.7 trillion over a decade.

High deficits have increased the national debt by over $2 trillion since President Trump took office, driven by mandatory spending, the GOP tax cuts and bipartisan spending deals.

The new poll findings are backed by a recent Economist/YouGov survey, which found that 45 percent of respondents said that the deficit was very important and another 38 percent said it was somewhat important.

But given a list of 15 priorities, only 2 percent listed the budget deficit as the most important, putting it among the bottom five issues. Health care, the economy, immigration, and Social Security topped the list.

Other findings highlight a problem for politicians: Americans largely oppose cutting spending to specific programs and don’t like paying taxes.

An April Pew survey found that only between 4 percent and 28 percent of Americans advocated for government spending decreases in an array of areas such as education, Medicare, environmental protection and veterans’ benefits. Large majorities wanted spending to either stay the same or go up for all the programs in question.

A Gallup poll in April found that 45 percent of people thought taxes were too high, while 48 percent thought they were about right. Just 4 percent thought they were too low.