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Most Americans Say Tax Cuts Trump Increased Government Spending

When faced with a budget crisis, most Americans think "it's always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money."

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 59% of Americans agree with that statement, while 26% disagree. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

That's down just slightly from August 2009, when 62% agreed that taxpayers are better judges of how to spend money. However, in January of 2009, just 53% agreed with that statement.

Fifty percent (50%) of Adults now say a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending, up nine points from January of last year.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) disagree, and another 21% are not sure. 

Just 27% think public spending provides "more bang for the buck" than tax cuts when it comes to economic policy and creating jobs. Forty-nine percent (49%) disagree, a seven-point increase from the beginning of 2009. But 24% are not sure.

Eighty-four percent (84%) of Republicans and 55% of Americans not affiliated with either major political party agree tax cuts are always better than increased government spending. Democrats are almost evenly divided on the question.

Investors feel more strongly than non-investors that taxpayers are better judges of how to spend money.

The lowest-income adults are more divided over whether a dollar of tax cuts is better than a dollar of public spending, while the highest-income adults are the most likely to agree with that idea.

A plurality of (47%) of Democrats think public spending goes further than tax cuts in helping the economy and creating jobs. Seventy percent (70%) of Republicans and 55% of politically unaffiliated adults disagree.

Most voters (65%) say they prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes rather than one with more services and higher taxes

They also still feel lower taxes - and less government spending - are part of the solution to the nation's economic problems. But they also tend to think taxes and spending will rise instead during the Obama years.

A sizable majority of Americans say their states are now having major budget problems, and they think spending cuts, not higher taxes, are the solution.

Most Americans blame state budget crises on politicians' unwillingness to cut spending rather than taxpayers' unwillingness to pay more in taxes.

Roughly one-quarter of Americans say they receive some form of cash benefits from the government, and most are not willing to sacrifice any of that money to help cut the size of the federal budget.


Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 21-22, 2010 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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