If a representative majority of Americans had crafted the 2006 federal budget, they would have gone in a rather different direction than their current elected leader. In lieu of mammoth defense spending, they would have devoted much more funding to education, job training and renewable energy development, according to a sampling of 1,182 Americans polled recently by the Program on International Policy Attitudes.
Over 60 percent of respondents favored cuts to defense spending ($133.8 billion, on average) and tax cut rollbacks for the wealthy. Meanwhile, employment, job training, medical research, education and veterans' benefits were at the top of the list of programs most deserving of money. More funding for renewable energy research and technology, in order to reduce dependence on oil, also received strong support.
Respondents also felt it was important to preserve existing funding for intelligence, special ops and peacekeeping missions, as well as troops' salaries. They demonstrated a deep aversion to nuclear weapons development. (Respondents did not see a need to put more than an average 150 nuclear weapons on alert at any time).
The PIPA poll comes on the heels of a New York Times/CBS News survey that found the Bush administration to be out of step with public opinion on a variety of policy initiatives, including its plans to recast Social Security. In that survey, a solid majority of respondents said the White House had different domestic and foreign policy priorities than most Americans, despite the fact that the president's approval rating held steady -- at 49 percent.