Voters can cut budget better than Congress, group says

Ag subsidies and defense spending part of $100B in suggested cuts.

An independent survey concludes voters from both political parties in Ohio are willing to support some spending reductions and tax increases to reduce the deficit by at least $100 billion during the 2017 federal spending year which begins in October.

The survey, conducted by the University of Maryland and released this morning, suggested that everyday Democrats and Republicans are more willing to support compromises to reduce the federal government’s mountain of red ink than lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“Clearly, citizens are able to find common ground about what to do about the deficit much more readily than Congress does,” said Steven Kull, who as director of the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation conducted the survey.

“Congress has gotten into deadlock (on the deficit) with Republicans resistant to raising any revenue and Democrats resistant to spending cuts,” Kull said.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has projected the federal government will have a deficit of $561 billion during the 2017 federal spending year.

The same report shows that without major changes in spending and taxes, the government will add $9.4 trillion during the next decade to the publicly held debt, which are treasury bills and notes held by private investors and foreign governments.

According to the survey of 373 registered voters, Ohio voters from both parties agreed on $25 billion in spending reductions, including trimming spending for defense, agricultural subsidies, and space exploration.

A majority also agreed on $79.3 billion in tax increases, with 64 percent supporting a 5 percent income tax increase on those earning more than $200,000 a year, a move which would generate about $34 billion in tax revenue.

In addition, 65 percent approved raising the tax on capital gains — profits from the sale of stock and real estate — from 23.8 percent to 28 percent, a move backed by 62 percent of the Republicans in the survey.

And 57 percent would consent to higher taxes on sugary drinks. The survey of Ohio voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percent.

The entire survey included 7,000 registered voters from Ohio, California, Florida, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.

The survey did not ask voters about restraining the growth of the entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which are the primary causes of future deficits. Kull said a follow-up survey in Ohio will ask voters about trimming Social Security and Medicare.

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