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Americans oppose increasing the debt ceiling. Here’s why

This comes from Gallup:

Gallup finds that Americans, by a 42% to 22% margin, are more likely to want their representative in Congress to vote against rather than for an increase in the federal debt ceiling, with 35% saying they have no opinion.

The July 7-10 poll asked respondents who either favored or opposed raising the debt ceiling to use their own words to explain their position. These responses were placed into categories and the results discussed in a previous Gallup analysis.

On pages 2 and 3 are the exact verbatim responses used by these more than 700 Americans in response to this open-ended question.

Here is a sampling of the responses:

MY CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY THAT DEBT. WE NEED TO PAY OUR OWN DEBTS NOW

I DON’T THINK THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD HOLD SUCH A HIGH BALANCE OF DEBT

TOO MUCH DEBT

WE OWE TOO MUCH NOW

WE SPEND TOO MUCH MONEY. IF THEY RAISE THE DEBT CEILING THEY WILL CONTINUE TO SPEND. WE NEED TO MAKE CUTS.

I’M AFRAID OUR COUNTRY IS GOING BANKRUPT

WE SHOULDN’T BE IN DEBT AND WE SHOULDN’T INCREASE IT.

OUR COUNTRY JUST CANT AFFORD IT. WE CAN’T KEEP PRINTING MONEY. IF WE RUN SHORT, WE CUT BACK. I JUST THINK WE HAVE TO LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS.

THEY SPEND TOO MUCH MONEY

I FEEL LIKE WE’RE ONLY MAKING MORE DEBT, OUR GOVERNMENT DOESN’T NEED TO SPEND MORE. I THINK WE SHOULD BE TAKING CARE OF THE ISSUES WE HAVE AT HOME AND NOT ABROAD.

WE NEED TO CUT COSTS FIRST

EVEN MORE DEBT

IT’S JUST GONNA KEEP BEING RAISED AND MAKE A BIGGER PROBLEM.

BECAUSE WE ARE NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF STIFFS IN WASHINGTON

JUST RAISES THE BILLS I GUESS.

WE NEED TO IMPROVE OUR SCHOOLS, OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM AND HIGHWAYS. THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO HERE.

I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO BE PAYING MORE TAXES

THEY SHOULD BE CUTTING FOREIGN AID IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THE AMOUNT THEY SPEND DOMESTICALLY.

BELIEVE IN BALANCED BUDGET

IF I HAVE TO LIVE IN A BUDGET SO SHOULD THEY

THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS THAT COULD BE CUT THAT AREN’T NECESSARY IN ORDER TO GET OUT OF DEBT SO THEY SHOULD STOP SPENDING

AREN’T WE IN DEBT ENOUGH? CAN WE AFFORD MORE?

HIGH ENOUGH AS IT IS

WE ALREADY OWE TOO MUCH MONEY

I’M AFRAID OUR COUNTRY IS GOING BANKRUPT

WE SHOULDN’T BE IN DEBT AND WE SHOULDN’T INCREASE IT.

OUR COUNTRY JUST CANT AFFORD IT. WE CAN’T KEEP PRINTING MONEY. IF WE RUN SHORT, WE CUT BACK. I JUST THINK WE HAVE TO LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS.

THEY SPEND TOO MUCH MONEY

See a lot more responses at the source below.

As you can see, this sense that America’s spending is out of control is visceral. Congress will respond and it will be cut. Looking for a job, running a business or Investing in a world of austerity is a lot different from getting along in normal times. I advise everyone to think about how this impacts them because the cuts are definitely coming.

Source: In Their Own Words: Americans’ Views on Raising Debt Ceiling – Gallup

About 

Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.

10 Comments

  1. The Analyst says:

    I wish they’d done a parallel study asking people what they think about Government programs like UE, foodstamps, etc, etc. Imagine there’d be plenty of dissonance there.

    • Agree. What people want and what’s doable are two different things. People will regret massive cuts because they will leas to depression.

      • wagdog says:

        Contrast that with the huge overlap between what people reject and what they actually rely upon.

        http://boingboing.net/2011/07/08/half-of-us-social-pr.html

        Plenty of dissonance there indeed.

        • Thanks for the link. It’s pretty sad. That is how it works unfortunately. I mentioned this before when I predicted a Democratic party meltdown 18 months ago:

          http://www.creditwritedowns.com/2010/01/the-democratic-party-meltdown-of-2010.html

          “If you asked your 80-year old mother whether she wanted the government to cut her taxes, what would she say? Yes? in a heartbeat; who doesn’t want a tax cut? Now, if you asked her the follow-up question as to whether she wanted fewer libraries and swimming pools or fewer garbage pickups and snow and leaf removal, she would ask you what you’re talking about. If you explained to her that these were ‘socialist’ services and they would be cut so as to not increase the deficit, her enthusiasm would dwindle. And I haven’t even gotten to teachers, firefighters and police officers. The fact is people like the services that government provides for them. That’s why it is provided. And while everyone wants a tax cut, most people don’t think socialism when they think of the local bus service or community park. The fact that so many people are yelling socialism these days has more to do with partisan politics, demagoguery and a bad economy than with reality.

          Now, you might object that all of the government services I mentioned are local services. The Federal Government is not providing any of these services. Fair enough. Where do we start the Federal cuts? How about discretionary spending? The largest piece of the pie is military and defense spending – $663.7 billion in 2010. Don’t want to cut defense spending? Well, the next item down the list is only $78.7 billion for the Health and Human Services Department. That’s not going to be a very big cut if you’re looking to reduce the deficit and cut taxes.

          How about mandatory spending? Social Security is #1: $695 billion and Medicare and Medicaid come next at $453 billion and $290 billion respectively. The break down is on the right (click to expand the image). If you want to rumble with a retiree, tell them you’re cutting back on Social Security or Medicare. Your 80-year old mother would throw you out.

          You get nowhere fast, politically speaking, by combating ‘socialism’ and trying to cut deficits because these are services and programs people want. That is the reality. So the cry of socialism is propaganda as it relates to deficits and taxes.”

  2. David Lazarus says:

    There is no way that defence spending can stay at its current levels. Maybe ending its overseas ambitions will have additional bonuses. Defence should make up the bulk of the cuts.

    • Good luck with that. You know full well defense will be one of the last places to see cuts.

      • David Lazarus says:

        Without such cuts the impact on the rest of the economy will be that much harsher. There are probably enough slack in procurement to have some savings. I would not suggest such savage cuts that they reduce military efficiency, unlike has happened in the UK. I think that the UK cuts were egregious in the extreme. Personally the US could balance its budget much more easily if they appreciate that they need to raise taxes, or equalise capital gains with income taxes. Closing the loopholes and subsidises would also make a difference. Without such efforts the US is only going to accelerate its demise as a world power.

        If they do default then you can kiss goodbye to reserve currency status. Image if they had to pay for their oil and deal with currency fluctuations as well?

  3. geerussell says:

    People want cuts, will suffer from cuts and won’t regret the cuts. When the cuts fail to yield either a smaller deficit or lower unemployment, the answer will be more cuts. Everyone from president Obama on down the line on both sides of the aisle has framed the discussion in “the government is like a household and needs to balance its checkbook” terms.

    That framework dominates all msm coverage and honestly how is the average person to know otherwise? It sounds reasonable and intuitive on the surface. Alternative ideas have no champion and remained trapped MMT econoblog cul-de-sac.

    There’s no one with any political capital forcing an engagement in the field for those ideas where even if they don’t win the day they get a higher profile airing.

    • David Lazarus says:

      No, there are many who are against any austerity but they are ignored, pretty much like the few who said the levels of debt building up were a problem. The long term outcome for the US is that if it does go into austerity then default some time in the future becomes a very real and very significant possibility. As a Keynesian I do want to see the deficit increased but I am worried that the current levels of private debt are so large that it will take decades of deficits to resolve the problems. Maybe a massive private defaults will clear the debts sufficiently for government deficits to actually work, as long as they do not go into inefficient tax cuts.