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80% Think Any Budget Surplus Should Go To Paying Down the Debt

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Should Congress ever again be able to generate a budget surplus, voters overwhelmingly want that money to go toward paying down the federal debt.

Just 14% of Likely U.S. Voters think that if the federal budget is balanced and even produces a small surplus, the budget surplus should go toward a cut in taxes. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that a tiny two percent (2%) believe the surplus should be used to increase government spending.

But 80% of voters say the surplus should be used to pay down the huge federal debt accumulated from earlier years. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

However, the day when a balanced budget comes is a long way off, according to most voters. Just 30% think it is at least somewhat likely that the federal budget will be balanced for even a single year during their lifetimes. That includes only nine percent (9%) who say it’s Very Likely.

The federal budget was last balanced in 1998, meaning revenues and expenses were even. All states but Vermont have some form of a balanced budget requirement, although many fail to hit that goal. House Republicans are seeking a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as part of any deal to raise the federal debt ceiling, but President Obama and congressional Democrats are opposed.

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The national telephone survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 22-23, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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