With U.S. income taxes and estate taxes set to increase sharply in a month and the federal debt topping $16 trillion, last week a national survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted by Rasmussen Reports asked the following five questions regarding how Congress should work to reduce the deficit:
- In looking for ways to cut the federal deficit, should Congress and the president consider only tax increases, only spending cuts, or a mix of spending cuts and tax increases?
- If a mix of spending cuts and tax increases is proposed, should there be more spending cuts or more tax increases?
- Regardless of what you think should happen, is the debt reduction agreement reached by the president and Congress likely to propose more spending cuts or more tax increases?
- If the agreement includes spending cuts, how likely is Congress to actually cut spending?
- If the agreement includes tax hikes, how likely is Congress to actually increase taxes?
And the survey says: 68% of voters want to see tax increases coupled with spending cuts to help reduce the federal deficit, 24% want to see spending cuts only, and a mere 4% want to see tax increases only.
But what the voters want is not what they expect they will get, since they anticipate Congress and the president will strike a deal that will offer more tax increases as opposed to real spending cuts. In addition, while voters expect that what they are lead to believe will be a tax increase will actually result in increased taxes, they are not so sure that what they are lead to believe is a spending cut will actually result in a cut in spending.