Deficit a Major Problem, But Not Among Most Important Issues

by David W. Moore

Eight in 10 Americans say budget deficit either a crisis or major problem

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Last month, the Bush administration announced a federal budget deficit of $455 billion, the largest in the country's history and $150 billion higher than what the administration predicted six months ago. Polls since then show that Americans believe the budget deficit to be a major problem facing the country, but still not one of the most important. The public is unsure whether the recent round of tax cuts will exacerbate the budget deficit, but in any case lean toward the congressional Democrats rather than the Republicans to deal with the problem.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted July 18-20 finds that close to eight in 10 Americans view the federal budget deficit as either a crisis (20%) or major problem (57%). Just two in 10 believe the deficit is only a minor problem (18%) or not a problem (3%).

Which of these statements do you think best describes the federal budget deficit – [ROTATED: it is a crisis, it is a major problem for the country but is not a crisis, it is a minor problem for the country, (or) it is not a problem for the country at all]?

 


Crisis

Major problem

Minor problem

Not a
problem

No
opinion

2003 Jul 18-20

20%

57

18

3

2



Despite the large number of Americans identifying the budget deficit as a problem, at this time few Americans appear worried about it in comparison with other problems. A July 7-9 Gallup Poll found only 3% of Americans citing the deficit among the most important problems facing the country. By contrast, in January 1996, the budget deficit was mentioned as the most important problem by 28% of the public, ranking it as the number one issue. However, in the past three years, 3% is the highest percentage of Americans mentioning the deficit in a Gallup Poll. The issue has not scored in the double digits since 1996.

Impact of Tax Cuts on Deficit?

President Bush has argued that the recently passed tax cuts will ultimately have a positive effect on the deficit, but Americans appear unsure about that. When asked if the cuts would result in an increase or decrease of the deficit, Americans choose "increase" by a 20-point margin -- 54% to 34%.

In the long run, do you think the recently passed federal income tax cuts will result in an increase or a decrease in the federal budget deficit?

BASED ON –505—NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Increase

Decrease

NO EFFECT (vol.)

No opinion

2003 Jul 18-20

54%

34

4

8




But when presented arguments on behalf of both positions, 48% agree the tax cuts would decrease the deficit in the long run "because they will stimulate the economy and bring in more money for the government," and 46% agree the cuts would add to the deficit "because the government will take in a lot less money that it won't be able to recover."

Which comes closer to your view about the long-term impact the recent income tax cuts will have on the federal budget deficit – [ROTATED: the tax cuts will increase the deficit in the long run because the government will take in a lot less money that it won't be able to recover, (or) the tax cuts will decrease the deficit in the long run because they will stimulate the economy and bring in more money for the government]?

BASED ON –498—NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

Make deficit worse

Make deficit better

No opinion

2003 Jul 18-20

46%

48

6




A little over a year ago, Americans were also about evenly divided as to which party in Congress would do a better job with the deficit. But in the latest poll, Americans favor the Democrats over the Republicans by a 13-point margin, 50% to 37%.

 

Do you think the Republicans in Congress or the Democrats in Congress would do a better job of dealing with each of the following issues and problems? How about:


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFERENCE (vol.)

No
opinion

2003 Jul 18-20

37%

50

7

6

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

39%

43

11

7

2002 May 28-29 ^

40%

36

13

11

^

Asked of a half sample.



Survey Methods

The most recent results are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18+, conducted July 18-20, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/8968/Deficit-Major-Problem-Among-Most-Important-Issues.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030