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

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.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

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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