Which workers and programs?

I was checking out some recent polling results to go over with my class next week, and this over at Gallup kind of stuck out at me:

Support for Proposals to Balance Budget in Your State, March 2011

Just for a second, I thought, “wow, I’m surprised and disappointed that people are so willing to eliminate workers and programs.”  Then I realized, of course they’re not, they are only willing to eliminate completely abstract “workers” and “programs.”  Once those “workers” and “programs” become things like “teachers, prison guards, board of health,” etc., those numbers would surely drop well below 50% in almost every specific case– states don’t do foreign aid :-).  I haven’t seen these specific questions asked in relation to state budgets, but certainly when asked about the federal budget, there’s basically no stomach for specific cuts.  Thus, not surprisingly, in state budgets as with the federal budget, the position of “public opinion” is entirely untenable as citizens want to solve our budget problems without raising any revenue and only cutting programs in the abstract and losing all stomach to do so in the specific.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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