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51% Now Recognize Most Federal Spending Goes to Defense, Medicare and Social Security

The majority of voters now understand that most of the federal budget goes to just three areas, but they still want to vote on any proposed changes to the ones that directly impact their retirement. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters recognize that most federal spending is spent on only three programs – Social Security, Medicare and national defense. Thirty percent (30%) believe incorrectly that this is not true, while 19% aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This represents a growing recognition of the budget realities, despite efforts by politicians from both parties to focus on other items in the budget. The 51% who now recognize that spending is concentrated in these areas is up from 47% in May, 41% last November and 35% last February.

The survey also confirms that voters still distrust official Washington when it comes to budgetary matters. Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters say any proposed changes in either Social Security or Medicare should be submitted to the American people before it can become law. Twenty-eight percent (28%) disagree and say a public vote is not necessary.

“If politicians had been listening to voters over the past 40 years, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today.  Voters have consistently been more willing than their politicians to make the necessary hard choices,” says Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “Having the people vote on fundamental reforms is one way to insure that the situation is dealt with in a serious manner rather than the congressional manner.”

Just eight percent (8%) of voters say Congress is doing a good or an excellent job, a near five-year low. Sixty-five percent (65%) say it’s unlikely anything significant will be accomplished on the budgetary front before Election 2012. In fact, most doubt that either political party will even offer a serious proposal for addressing the problem before that time.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 21, 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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