In the survey, fully six in ten Americans said the wars had contributed "a great deal" to the federal deficit, while an additional 26% said they had contributed a "fair amount." Meanwhile, 42% said the sour economy had a great deal to do with the debt, and 24% said the same about increased spending on domestic programs. Only 19% said tax cuts had greatly impacted the deficit, while an additional 35% said they had contributed a fair amount.
According to the CBPP, the Bush-era tax cuts by far account for the largest share of the federal deficit. Combined with the Iraq and Afghan wars, those policies will make up around 50% of the overall deficit by 2019, according to CBPP's figures.
In a reflection of Americans' perception of how military spending has impacted the debt, the survey also found that 65% of Americans support reducing the nation's overseas military commitments as a way to reduce the deficit, while 30% oppose such a move. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, a bipartisan group of legislators began pushing for a more rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan, though the Obama administration has rebuffed those calls.
Further, the poll also found broad bipartisan support for raising taxes on income earned above $250,000 per year. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) support doing that to reduce the deficit, versus 31% who oppose that idea. Democrats were most favorable toward that plan, with 78% voicing support and just 21% saying the opposite. Independents also strongly backed that proposal, doing so by a 67% to 28% margin. And even Republicans are relatively warm to the idea, with an equal 49% both supporting and opposing a tax increase for high-income earners.
The fact even Republicans aren't necessarily opposed to tax increases over $250,000 could offer Democrats a wedge in deficit talks as they've so far insisted that such raises be part of a final deal. Republican lawmakers have flatly balked at such a proposal, repeating the mantra that America has a spending, not a revenue problem.
The Pew poll was conducted May 25-30 among 1,509 adults nationwide. It has a margin of eror of 3.5%.