News Release

Budget Debate: Public Vs. Politicians

STEVEN KULL
Director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes and co-author of Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism, Kull said: “When pollsters ask Americans how they feel about spending — on, for example, defense and foreign aid — they say to keep defense where it is and cut foreign aid. However, when we told respondents how the budget was presently distributed, on average they cut defense by 42 percent and doubled spending on foreign aid. Respondents wanted to quadruple spending on the UN and peacekeeping. Domestically, they want to nearly double education spending.”

MIRIAM PEMBERTON
A research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Pemberton said: “We are spending $17 billion more on the military than we did last year… There’s a remarkable consensus in the presidential field that military spending will need to be further increased (though Bradley has indicated that he’d like to keep it steady).”
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ELLEN TAYLOR
A policy analyst specializing in budget issues with OMB Watch, Taylor said: “While both Republicans and Democrats claim victory in the budget debate, the real loser is the American people. Rather than a rational budget process focused on the needs of the country and how best to address them in this era of budget surpluses and a booming economy, both sides used political strategies of keeping within arbitrary budget caps (accomplished only with accounting fictions)… The budget got played out to the American people as a contest with purely symbolic issues at stake. In fact, there are real issues that go beyond political ambitions.”
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MARK WEISBROT
Co-author of the new book Social Security: The Phony Crisis and an economist and research director at the Preamble Center, Weisbrot said: “Social Security has now become the ultimate political football. Contrary to assertions by both the Democratic and Republican leaderships, nobody is going to ‘raid’ the trust fund, nor could they. None of the spending decisions made by Congress will have any impact on Social Security since its trust fund only lends money to the rest of the government, it doesn’t give it away. It doesn’t matter to the trust fund if the money is used to pay down the debt or invested in education and health care. But all the political rhetoric has the effect of undermining public confidence in Social Security when in fact the program’s finances are sound for the foreseeable future.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167