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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 04:13 PM

Republican Primary Voters Embrace Government. No, Really. (by John Sides)


Paul Ryan’s budget would cut a lot of government spending. It would cut entitlement spending. It would cut aid to the poor, transportation, education, veterans benefits, and scientific research. There have been plenty of responses to the budget, positive and negative. But only a couple that I've seen -- Jon Bernstein's and Stan Collender's-- anticipate this potential problem:

It might not prove that popular with Republican voters.

This is because many people who object to government in the abstract actually embrace it in fact and often embrace its most expensive programs. Is this surprising? No and no. But it bears repeating.

In a March 3-6 YouGov poll, respondents were asked whether they wanted to increase spending, decrease spending, or keep spending the same in 16 different policy areas. In only one case, foreign aid, did a majority (72%) of Americans want to cut spending. And some of the most costly programs -- like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- attracted some of the least opposition.

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