Election 2016

Americans Say "Yes" to Spending More on VA, Infrastructure

by Frank Newport

Story Highlights

  • Proposal allowing vets to receive care at civilian facilities gets strong support
  • Americans strongly agree with spending more to modernize the VA
  • Spending more federal money on infrastructure wins widespread approval

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans overwhelmingly agree with proposals made by presidential candidate Donald Trump and others to allow veterans to get healthcare from any provider that accepts Medicare, not just Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Americans also support spending more federal money on the VA in general, and widely agree with the idea championed by Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to spend more federal money on improving the nation's infrastructure.

Views on Proposals to Reform VA and Spend More on Infrastructure
I'm going to read several proposals recently made by candidates running for president. For each proposal, please tell me if you agree or disagree with the proposal, or if you don't know enough about it to have an opinion.
Agree% Disagree% Don't know% Net agree(pct. pts.)
Allow veterans to get healthcare at any healthcare provider that accepts Medicare, not just Veterans Administration medical facilities (proposed by Trump, Cruz) 91 2 6 89
Spend federal money to modernize the Veterans Administration (proposed by Trump) 74 7 19 67
Spend more federal money to improve infrastructure, including roads, buildings and waterways (proposed by Clinton, Sanders, Trump) 75 11 13 64
March 9-13, 2016
Gallup Daily tracking

Gallup asked Americans about these proposals in a March 9-13 poll as part of an ongoing effort to test public support for specific policy recommendations made by presidential candidates of both parties in this year's election cycle. All three of these proposals are extremely popular with Americans, with high levels of agreement and little disagreement, putting them at the top of the list of all presidential proposals tested to date.

Support for Veterans

While most presidential candidates have addressed veterans' issues, the two proposals tested have been a key part of Trump's campaign platform. Trump says that under his administration, "all veterans eligible for VA healthcare can bring their veteran's ID card to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately," in part reacting to the 2014 controversy over the quality of healthcare veterans receive. Ted Cruz has also called for more flexibility in veterans' ability to get healthcare outside of VA medical facilities.

In addition, Trump proposes to increase funding for a variety of VA projects, including "accelerating and expanding investments in state-of-the-art technology" and spending more for job training, placement services, educational support and business loans.

Americans have more confidence in the military than in any other U.S. institution, and this high regard extends to military veterans as well. The idea of allowing veterans to get their healthcare from any provider that accepts Medicare receives almost no pushback from Americans. Only 2% disagree with the idea, while 91% agree. Support for increased federal spending for VA-related projects is not quite as high, with 74% agreement and 7% disagreement. The lesser support, however, is largely a result of a higher percentage of Americans saying they don't know enough to have an opinion.

Federal Spending on Infrastructure

Both Trump and the two Democratic presidential candidates have proposed increased government spending on the nation's infrastructure. Trump said in December, "We've spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people. If we could've spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges and all of the other problems -- our airports and all of the other problems we've had -- we would've been a lot better off." Clinton promises to "boost federal investment [in infrastructure] by $275 billion over the next five years," and Sanders has proposed the "Rebuild America Act, to invest $1 trillion over five years to modernize our infrastructure."

The general idea of spending more federal money on infrastructure, like the suggestions to improve the situation for veterans, meets with strong public approval; 75% of Americans say they agree, while 11% disagree.

Implications

All of the presidential candidate proposals reviewed here require additional federal spending -- in the case of Sanders' infrastructure proposal, as much as $1 trillion. As is the case when candidates reference these types of proposals in speeches or debates, the wording used in this research did not specify where the funding for increased spending on veterans or infrastructure would come from. But the results clearly show that these proposals strike a responsive chord with Americans when they hear them in capsule form, which means that they play well on the campaign trail.

If a candidate who promises these types of initiatives is elected, the challenge will be for him or her to figure out exactly how to pay for them: with increased taxes or cost savings, or by shifting funding from other programs. That process has the potential to dilute the public's current high levels of support.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 9-13, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with each proposal rated by between 494 and 559 national adults living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Results for each proposal have a margin of error of ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/190136/americans-say-yes-spending-infrastructure.aspx
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