Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Public Favors More Spending on Progressive Programs

PAUL WALDMAN, GADFLYER - When Democrats win elections, the press tells us it's because of a charismatic candidate or things like the state of the economy. On the other hand, when Republicans win elections we're told it represents fundamental rightward shifts in American opinion, a deeply conservative electorate voting on its basic beliefs.

Pundits seldom point out that with a couple of exceptions, on nearly any issue you can come up with, the progressive position is the more popular one. Now a fascinating new poll from the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes shows just how out of whack the federal budget is with the priorities of the American people - priorities that turn out to be positively Scandinavian.

PIPA employed an unusual technique, in which they presented respondents with a spreadsheet showing 17 areas of the discretionary budget and how much the Bush administration is proposing to spend on them (they included a figure for Iraq, which the administration pretends for budgetary purposes does not exist). Then respondents were told they could adjust these items up or down as they'd like to see the money spent. They were also given the option to put money toward deficit reduction. To make the exercise easier, the budget was converted to total $1,000. . .

Defense spending was cut by an average of 31%. Two-thirds of respondents chose to cut the defense budget.

Funds for Iraq were cut by an average of 35%, again with two-thirds of respondents opting for cuts.

61% of respondents chose to put aside money for deficit reduction.

Education spending was increased by 39%.

Funds for job training were increased by 263%.

Funds for medical research were increased by 53%.

Veterans benefits were increased by 40%.

Funds for conservation and the development of renewable energy were increased by 1090%. That is not a typo. 70% of respondents opted for increases in this area.

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