In their priorities for the federal government, Americans knocked reducing the federal deficit the furtherest down the list over the last year, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.
The percentage of Americans who named “reducing the budget deficit” as a top priority for the president and Congress fell from 72 percent in January 2013 to 63 percent in January 2014. That was the largest drop of the 20 issues that the poll studied.
The figure was 53 percent in January 2009 when President Barack Obama took office. As a widespread public backlash to the stimulus package set in, and the GOP took control of the House in the 2010 midterm election, the austerity crowd has largely won the debate in Washington — a trend perhaps best personified by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, passed by Congress, signed by the president, which were to cut federal spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. At the same time, any spending initiatives proposed by the White House have routinely been shot down by the House GOP, usually on the basis that any new spending would add to the federal deficit.
As for the deficit itself, it fell 37 percent from fiscal year 2012 to 2013 ($1.1 trillion to $680 billion), the biggest drop of the Obama presidency, and all the way down from more than $1.4 trillion in 2009.
Strengthening the nation’s economy (80 percent) and improving the job situation (74 percent) remained the top priorities for Americans, though they experienced drops — 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively — as well.
The issue that saw the biggest uptick as a priority was “improving roads, bridges, public transit”, up to 39 percent from 30 percent a year ago.
The poll, conducted from Jan. 15 to 19, surveyed 1,504 U.S. adults. It has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.