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Poll finds support for spending cuts

– Americans broadly support an across-the-board cut in spending for a government often seen as wasteful, but there is wide opposition to blanket cuts to the military, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The general idea of slicing government spending is popular, with majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats all saying they support an across-the-board 5 percent reduction in federal outlays. This poll asked only about cuts started with the sequester, not about taxes, or any possible budget deal.

Unsurprisingly, support for cutting government spending peaks at 82 percent among conservative Republicans, including 60 percent who say so “strongly.”

But even 50 percent of liberal Democrats back such cuts, at least in general terms. About 55 percent of liberal Democrats also back the 8 percent slashing of the U.S. military budget included in the sequester. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose such cuts to defense.

The large support for cutting government spending stands in stark contrast with deep public opposition to decreasing spending on particular programs. In February, the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans on 19 areas of federal spending, and there was majority support for decreasing spending in precisely zero of them. The Huffpost Pollster also found evidence of a cuts paradox.

In short: the American public likes the idea of cutting federal spending; what they don’t like are actual cuts in federal spending.

This poll was conducted for The Washington Post and ABC News by telephone Feb. 27 to March 3 among a random national sample of 1,017 adults. The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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