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Poll: Americans Skeptical Of A Long-Term Balanced Budget

By Keating Holland/CNN

poll

WASHINGTON (Jan. 8) -- Despite rosy forecasts, less than one quarter of the American public believes the next federal budget will be balanced, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Even if the government does eliminate the deficit this year, only 26 percent believe that the budget will stay balanced for the next several years.

If the federal budget has a surplus this year -- a big "if," given the high amount of skepticism on the issue -- 43 percent of the public would like to see most of that surplus spent on government programs such as Social Security, Medicare and public schools.

Only 22 percent would like to see most of a possible surplus spent on a tax cut.

Three Americans in 10 would like to see most of the surplus go toward reducing the debt that the government owes from previous years when the federal budget was out of balance.

Who gets the credit?

So, who gets most of the credit for cutting the deficit by more than $260 billion since 1992?

poll

Sixty-three percent of people surveyed say Clinton deserves some credit while 54 percent say the Republicans in Congress should get a share of the credit as well.

But even more Americans -- 77 percent -- say that credit should go to good economic conditions.

The reduction in the deficit has also reduced the public's concern on the issue. Throughout the 1980s, a majority of Americans said the deficit was a very serious problem, peaking in 1989 when nearly two-thirds felt that way.

Today, only 40 percent of the public thinks the federal budget deficit is a serious problem.

Clinton also retains his high approval rating, with 59 percent of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling his job.

The survey of 1,015 adult Americans was conducted Jan. 6-7 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

How Should Most Of A Surplus Be Spent?
Increase spending
Reduce debt
Cut taxes

43%
30%
22%
(Note: A budget surplus is only hypothetical at this time.)
Will The Next Budget Be Balanced?
Yes
No

23%
69%
Will The Budget Stay Balanced For Next Several Years?
Yes
No

26%
63%
(Note: Question assumes the budget Clinton and Congress develop this year would be balanced.)
Federal Deficit Is A Very Serious Problem
Now
1989

40%
63%
Credit for Reducing The Federal Deficit
Economy
Clinton
GOP in Congress

77%
63%
54%
Clinton Approval Rating
Approve
Disapprove

59%
32%
In Other News

Thursday Jan. 8, 1998

Oliver North Tests The Waters
Sources: Lott To Deliver GOP Response To State Of The Union
Jones Will Attend Clinton's Deposition
Justice Concludes No Evidence Of Crime In Ron Brown Death
U.S. Softens Initial Reaction To Iranian President
Palm Springs Expects Full House For Bono's Farewell
Cisneros Pleads Not Guilty

Poll
Americans Skeptical Of A Long-term Balanced Budget





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