Extravagant to Responsible: American Attitudes towards Government Spending

Report Public Opinion

Extravagant to Responsible: American Attitudes towards Government Spending

May 24, 2017 1 min read Download Report
Elizabeth Fender
Manager, Marketing
Elizabeth Fender serves as Manager of Marketing at The Heritage Foundation.

Summary

To help overcome reluctance, those who are interested in putting America back on a sustainable path should focus on common-sense changes in how Congress views and handles budgets; the strengthening effect of lower spending and debt on the economy; and the strong ties between the overall beneficial impact of lower spending on personal benefits (like having more money to provide for their family and a better quality of life) and values like greater peace of mind and security.

Key Takeaways

70% of Americans believe that government spending should decrease.

Nine in 10 Americans agree that the government’s current spending practices are harmful to the economy (86%) and unsustainable (90%).

While high government spending is unpopular, sustainable spending is unfamiliar, and the path to it may seem daunting to Americans.

 

Messaging Priorities

Untrustworthy government spending

  1. Special interests, waste, corruption, and extravagance.
  2. Common-sense changes and discipline in Washington like firm, honest budgets and closing loopholes increase accountability.

    A vision of sustainable spending
     
  3. Tie policies to a stronger economy.
  4. Connect economic benefits like reducing the deficit and taxpayer burden and stimulating the economy to personal benefits like greater opportunity, more money, and an improved quality of life.

70% Say Government Spending Should Decrease

Moreover, 9 in 10 agree that the government’s current spending practices are harmful to the economy (86%) and unsustainable (90%).
 

Majority Say Government Spending Should Decrease

Americans Portray Reluctance over Large-scale Changes

Despite support for lower spending, when given the choice, Americans favor spending cuts over time (80%) rather than all at once (20%). They also prefer a large number of smaller cuts (71%) to a few large cuts (29%). While high government spending is unpopular, sustainable spending is unfamiliar, and the path to it may seem daunting to Americans.

Jumping the Hurdles to Sustainable Government Spending

To help overcome reluctance, those who are interested in putting America back on a sustainable path should focus on common-sense changes in how Congress views and handles budgets; the strengthening effect of lower spending and debt on the economy; and the strong ties between the overall beneficial impact of lower spending on personal benefits (like having more money to provide for their family and a better quality of life) and values like greater peace of mind and security.

Authors

Elizabeth Fender
Elizabeth Fender

Manager, Marketing

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