See that chart to the left? It’s from this article at The Economist. It’s about a poll they conducted wherein they asked people if they thought the government should decrease the deficit by raising taxes or cutting spending. Cutting spending was the popular choice at 65% with only 5% saying raising taxes was the way to go. So then they asked the question over there on the left and that chart is the result.
As Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones points out:
As you can see, there wasn’t one single area that even a third of the country wanted to cut back on. Except — hold on there! Down in the middle of the table. There is one area that everyone’s willing to trim: foreign aid. Good ‘ol foreign aid. A category that, as Roger McShane dryly points out, “makes up less than 1% of America’s total spending.”
Beyond that, there were only four areas that even a quarter of the population was willing to cut: mass transit, agriculture, housing, and the environment. At a rough guess, these areas account for about 3% of the federal budget. You could slash their budgets by a third and still barely make a dent in federal spending.
So, yeah, cutting spending would be one way to reduce the deficit… if you were willing to actually cut into the programs that cost the most. It’s a shame that all the really expensive programs are the ones most folks don’t really want to cut.
Perhaps they should spend some time actually learning from this excellent infographic poster about the Federal Budget:
You can zoom in and move it around or go full screen to get a better look. That’s the creation of Jess Bachman and he’s been updating it every year since 2004. It really is worth looking at in detail to see where the money goes and you can buy a 24″ x 36″ posted of it at his WallStats website along with several other excellent infographics he’s made.
The point being: It doesn’t help if everyone thinks we should cut spending, but no one can agree on where those cuts should be made. Nobody likes higher taxes, but the only way to have your cake and eat it too is to pay for it. Even if that means using a credit card to do so, which is more or less what the deficit is tantamount to.