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If Taxes Hiked to Reduce Deficit, 62% Think It Will Be Spent on New Programs

Americans think tax hikes are more likely than spending cuts in any deficit reduction deal that comes out of Congress and are more convinced than ever that any new tax monies will be spent on new government programs.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 62% of American Adults believe that if Congress and President Obama raise taxes to reduce the federal deficit, the new tax money will be spent on new government programs instead of deficit reduction. That’s up four points from 58% in February 2010.

Just 23% think the new tax revenue will go instead to reducing the deficit, while 15% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty-four percent (64%) of adults feel it is at least somewhat likely that Congress will raise taxes if it reaches a deficit agreement with the president that includes tax hikes. That includes 34% who say it is Very Likely. Only 26% think tax increases are unlikely in that scenario, but just four percent (4%) say it’s Not At All Likely.

By contrast, if a new deficit reduction agreement includes spending cuts, just 38% of Americans think it’s likely that spending will actually be cut. Fifty-six percent (56%) think Congress is unlikely to actually deliver on the spending cuts.

Fifty percent (50%) of Americans now think the president and Congress should consider a mix of spending cuts and tax increases in looking for ways to cut the federal deficit, but 64% are unwilling to pay higher taxes themselves to reduce the deficit.  However, they want to see more spending cuts than tax hikes but expect any deal to deliver just the opposite.

Overall, 73% believe the president and congressional Republicans are unlikely to reach an agreement to significantly cut long-term government spending trends before the 2012 election.

In April of last year, when the president formally kicked off meetings by his bipartisan deficit reduction commission, 78% of Americans said Congress was likely to go along with any recommended tax hikes, while only 30% thought it would go through with any proposed spending cuts.

(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 survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on September 21-22, 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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