Americans have no idea where the federal government spends its money, a new poll suggests.
Among likely voters surveyed late last month by the Tarrance Group, “[t]here are widespread misperceptions about the state of the federal budget,” the Republican pollsters concluded. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they believe the federal government spends more on defense and foreign aid than it does on Medicare and Social Security. In fiscal 2010, spending for those two social programs totaled more than $1.1 trillion, while the Pentagon’s budget was about $660 billion and the State Department’s total spending was just under $52 billion.
A majority of those surveyed by Tarrance also have “incorrect” views on how to cut the federal deficit, with 60 percent saying the federal budget’s problems can be ameliorated by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday released a report detailing several billion dollars’ worth of “duplication” in government spending that could be cut. But even if the totals reach the tens of billions of dollars, they would still be a drop in the bucket of President Barack Obama’s proposed $3.73 trillion in spending for fiscal 2012.