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Trump’s ‘Taxpayer First’ Budget Puts the People Second

In presenting the Trump administration’s budget for FY 2018 and beyond, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney claimed that this budget is a ‘taxpayer’s first’ budget, meaning that it was formed to meet the priorities of the American taxpayers, consistent with President Donald J. Trump’s repeated affirmations, during the campaign and in his inaugural speech, that this administration would be directly guided by the people’s priorities.
 
However, the president’s budget, like his earlier ‘Budget Blueprint,’ is remarkably out of step with the public’s priorities as revealed in various surveys conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) in conjunction with Voice Of the People. Both organizations do not take a position on this issue or lobby on any legislation.
 
The most dramatic feature of the president’s new budget is the sharp cuts in spending on poverty programs especially to SNAP benefits (more commonly know as food stamps) and Medicaid. Such programs are sometimes presumed to be unpopular with taxpayers because they benefit a minority of Americans.
 
However, when PPC presented respondents with the average SNAP benefits for the average recipient living alone, 81 percent (including 66 percent of Republicans) proposed raising the benefit, with the majority raising it by 43 percent.
 
The Medicaid expansion program under the Affordable Care Act is a major target of the Trump budget. However, 64 percent favor Medicaid expansion for their state, including 62 percent in the states that have not accepted it. Support among Republicans was lower, though, at 43 percent.
 
“It is easy for the Trump administration to assume that, because they were elected, that their budget priorities are consistent with those of the public,” said PPC Director Steven Kull. “However, substantial research shows that a real ‘taxpayers first’ budget would look quite different from the one that they are proposing.”
 
Proposed spending levels in the Trump budget are equally out of step with the budget that a large representative sample of voters made up when they were presented authorized discretionary spending levels for 2017 and allowed to make their own budget. While majorities did concur with Trump’s proposed cuts to subsidies to agricultural corporations, they did not agree with his cuts to education, medical research, pollution control, public housing, or the size of his cuts to the State Department and AID.
 
They did not agree with his increases to military spending (preferring a $39 billion cut to a $54 billion increase), or to increases to Veterans affairs and homeland security.
 
Perhaps most striking is the gap on revenues. Large bipartisan majorities do agree with his proposal to repeal the ‘carried interest’ provision that allows investment fund managers to have their income taxed at a preferential rate. But his proposals to eliminate the estate tax or to give owners of pass-through-entities a preferential rate are rejected by more than six in ten in both parties. While Trump has called for reducing corporate taxes and taxes on capital gains and dividends, majorities (though not a bipartisan ones) favor modest increases.
 
Trump has called for cuts to income taxes for higher earners. But nearly two thirds of voters (including a slight majority of Republicans) favors at least a five percent increase in the effective tax rate for incomes over $200,000.
 
The survey on the federal budget was conducted March 8–16, 2017. The sample of 1,817 voters was provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its sample or respondents, recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was (+/-) 2.3 percent.
 
The survey on federal poverty programs was conducted November 11–December10, 2016. The sample of 7,128 voters was provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its sample or respondents, recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was (+/-) 1.2 percent.
 
The full report on the PPC budget survey can be found at:
http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Federal_Budget_2018_Report.pdf
 
The budget survey questionnaire can be found at:
http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Federal_Budget_2018_Quaire.pdf
 
The public release of the full PPC survey results on federal poverty programs is forthcoming.

Americans Want a Budget That Cuts the Deficit

In Unique Survey, Voters Make Their Own Federal Budget, Cut Deficit Over $200 Billion

As anticipation for President Donald J. Trump’s first budget release in the next few weeks reaches a crescendo, there is much debate about whether cutting the deficit should be a priority for the administration. Apparently most American voters think it should be. In a unique survey in which respondents made up their own Federal budget, majorities proposed a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases that would reduce the deficit for 2018 by at least $211 billion. There were partisan differences, but Republicans and Democrats did agree on $80 billion in deficit reductions.

In the survey, initiated by the non-partisan Voice of the People and conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), a representative sample of 1,817 voters were presented discretionary spending for FY 2017 (broken into 31 line items), and sources of general revenues, actual and proposed. They were then given the opportunity to modify both spending and revenues, getting feedback as they went along about the effect of their choices on the projected deficit. Respondents were not instructed to reduce the deficit, and were able to both increase or decrease spending or revenues.

Overall, majorities cut spending a net of $57 billion. While both Democratic and Republican members of Congress are planning for increases in spending on national defense for 2018, this was the area that received the biggest cut from the public– majorities cut it by $39 billion. Other significant cuts were for subsidies to agricultural corporations ($5 billion), intelligence agencies ($4 billion), homeland security ($2 billion), the State Department ($2 billion) and the space program ($2 billion), plus smaller trims in other areas. The one area to be increased was the development of alternative energy and energy efficiency, which was increased by $2 billion (a 100% increase).

The biggest changes, though, were on the revenue side, which were increased a total of $154.2 billion. The biggest source of revenues ($63.3 billion) arose from increases in personal income taxes for higher earners. Those with incomes over $100,000 saw their taxes go up 5 percent, while those with incomes over $1 million had increases of 10 percent.

“Clearly Americans are concerned about the deficit and are ready to make some tough choices to bring it down—more than Congress is even ready to consider,” said PPC Director Steven Kull.

Other major increases came from an increase in taxes on capital gains and dividends from 23.8 percent to 28 percent ($22 billion), a new transaction fee on financial transactions of 0.01 percent ($20 billion), a 5 percent increase on corporate taxes ($17 billion), a tax on sugary drinks of $.05 an ounce ($9 billion), an increase in the estate tax ($7.8 billion), a fee to banks who have large amounts of uninsured debt ($6 billion), and repeal of the ‘carried interest’ tax break for fund managers ($2.1 billion).

There were significant partisan differences. Republicans only cut $5 billion from defense, while Democrats cut $91 billion. Republicans cut $9 billion from education, while Democrats increased it $3 billion. Republicans cut environmental spending by $6 billion, while Democrats raised it by $1 billion. Most Republicans did not join in on increases to corporate taxes, estate taxes, and taxes on sugary drinks.

Nonetheless, Democrats and Republicans did converge on $80 billion in deficit reductions, including $63.2 billion in revenue increases and $17 billion in spending cuts.

Overall, Democrats made the largest reductions to the deficit of $306.5 billion, with $96 billion in net reductions to spending and $210.5 billion in revenue increases. Republicans made total deficit reduction of $134.2 billion, with $65 billion in spending reductions and $69.2 in revenue increases. 

In the survey, respondents went through an online process called a ‘policymaking simulation’ that gives the users information and seeks to put them in the shoes of a policymaker. The content was vetted in advance by Congressional staffers from both parties and other experts to assure accuracy and balance.

The sample was provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its sample or respondents, recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error for the sample of 1,817 voters was (+/-) 2.3 percent.

The full report is available online at http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Federal_Budget_2018_Report.pdf

The questionnaire is available online at http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Federal_Budget_2018_Quaire.pdf

Before walking away from Paris agreement, Trump should listen to the People

President Donald J. Trump announced that he will make a decision this week on whether to have the United States formally withdraw from the international agreement on climate that the U.S. signed in Paris in 2016. Voice of the People (VOP) President Steven Kull says Mr. Trump should consider the fact that seven-in-ten Americans support U.S. participation in the agreement when making this decision.

“Americans today express great frustration with government because they believe that leaders pay little attention to the public’s views when making important decisions that will affect the lives of citizens. President Trump was elected on a promise that the people would have much more influence in his administration than in previous ones, and the American people are watching to see if he will follow through on that commitment,” said Kull.

VOP is a nonpartisan organization that does not take a position on policy issues, but does encourage policymakers to take public views into account.

American public support for the Paris agreement was revealed in an in-depth study initiated by VOP and conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation in April 2016. In the national survey, a representative sample of 5,975 voters were given a briefing on the issue, including the fact that the deal involves the United States adopting the goal of reducing greenhouse gases by about 2 percent a year.

Respondents also evaluated strongly-stated arguments for and against U.S. participating in the agreement—the argument in favor was found more convincing. Asked for their final recommendation, 71 percent approved of the United States adopting the 2 percent reduction goal as part of the international agreement. This included a slight majority of Republicans (52 percent) and an overwhelming majority of Democrats (89 percent). 

The survey also included samples in eight different states, ranging from very “red” to very “blue.” Similar majorities approved in all states including Oklahoma (69 percent), Texas (70 percent), Florida (71 percent), Ohio (66 percent), Virginia (72 percent), California (73 percent), Maryland (80 percent), and New York (76 percent).

Other more recent polls have found similar results. A December 2016 poll by Yale University found 69 saying that the United States should participate in the “international agreement in Paris with 196 other countries to limit the pollution that causes global warming.”

A March 2016 Quinnipiac University poll found 63 percent saying that it would be a bad idea to eliminate funding for “international climate change programs.”  And a January 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll found just one in three supported the idea of “Withdrawing from the main international treaty that tries to address climate change.”

A report on the VOP study can be found at: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/EE_Report.pdf

Americans Favor Raising SNAP Benefits, But Not Allowing Them for Candy and Soda

A study finds that eight-in-ten voters favor boosting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as ‘food stamps.’ Very large majorities also backed proposals for not allowing SNAP benefits to be used for candy and sodas, and for providing incentives to encourage SNAP beneficiaries to eat more fruits and vegetables. 

The results were released today by Voice Of the People, a nonpartisan organization that does not take a position on legislation, but works to give the people a greater voice in policy making decisions.

The proposals for SNAP reform explored were based on legislative proposals that have been made in Congress over the last two years. A national survey of more than 7,000 voters explored these proposals in depth, including the arguments against them.

In the survey, which was conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), when respondents were told about current levels of SNAP benefits for specific types of cases, large majorities favored increasing the benefits.

Told that recipients living alone, earning on average $542 a month, get $140 a month in benefits, 81 percent favored raising the benefit level (Republicans 66 percent, Democrats 93 percent) with the majority raising it 43 percent to $200.

Told that a single mother with one child, earning on average $760 a month, get $253 a month in benefits, 78 percent favored raising the benefit level (Republicans 62 percent, Democrats 91 percent) with the majority raising it 19 percent to $300.

Currently, H.R. 1276 calls for increasing the minimum SNAP benefits.

“It’s interesting that Americans embrace both liberal and conservative ideas for SNAP benefits—making them both more generous and more restricted,” said PPC Director Steven Kull. “There is quite a lot of bipartisan agreement on this issue.” 

Whether SNAP benefits should be permitted to be used for foods that are low in nutritional values or even unhealthy has generated much controversy. Various states have requested permission to restrict the use of SNAP benefits for non-nutritious food items. Legislation has been proposed to impose the same restrictions on SNAP benefits as there has been for the Women and Infant Children (WIC) program, which would have the effect of disallowing such items.

The survey found overwhelming bipartisan support for limiting what SNAP benefits can be used for. Seventy-six percent (Republicans 85 percent, Democrats 68 percent) favored disallowing the purchase of candy with SNAP benefits, while 73 percent (Republicans 82 percent, Democrats 67 percent) wanted to disallow sweetened soda. A majority overall (59 percent), but not a majority of Democrats, favored disallowing cookies, cakes and doughnuts. On the other hand, a majority favored allowing chips and snack crackers and ice cream. Thus, the majority does not go as far as proposed legislation restricting allowable foods to WIC standards.

An overwhelming nine-in-ten, including eight-in-ten Republicans, also favored providing discounts on fruit and vegetables bought with SNAP benefits.

An additional controversial issue addressed was over how much savings beneficiaries can have and still be eligible for the SNAP program. When told that the amount of savings a household can have and still receive SNAP benefits is $2,250, a slight majority overall favored keeping the requirement as it is, but a majority of Democrats favored raising the permitted level.

The survey was conducted online with a national probability-based sample of 7,128 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its sample of respondents, recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/-1.2 percent. The questions on the SNAP benefits discussed herein are part of a larger survey on Federal poverty programs that will be released in the next weeks.  

The study was unique in that respondents received a short briefing on the proposals for reforming federal poverty programs and evaluated strongly-stated arguments both for and against each option before making their final recommendations. The briefing and the pro and con arguments were developed and reviewed by key Republican and Democratic staffers who deal with these issues from the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. Additional specialists were consulted representing the spectrum of opinion on the issues.

The sample also included samples of approximately 400 or more from eight states—Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, California, Maryland and New York. Despite the range from very red to very blue, the results in all the states were largely the same as the national sample.

A report of the SNAP benefits findings can be found at: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/SNAP_Report.pdf

The survey’s questionnaire can be found at: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/SNAP_Quaire.pdf

 

Large Majority of Voters in States Without Medicaid Expansion Favor It

Now that the Republican leadership in the House has failed in its effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), attention has turned back to the question of whether states that have not acceded to ACA’s Medicaid expansion will do so. Nineteen states have not elected to expand Medicaid and receive the federal support that would be provided. The results were released today by Voice Of the People.

However a large, in-depth survey finds that more than six-in-ten voters living in states that have not opted for Medicaid expansion would like their state to do so, including  those in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. 

The survey of more than 7,000 registered voters, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), briefed respondents on the ACA plan that gives states the option of expanding Medicaid with Federal help. They evaluated strongly-stated arguments in favor and against the idea of their state accepting this plan. The content of the briefing and the pro and con arguments were reviewed by Congressional staffers from both parties and other experts across the spectrum of opinion on the issue. 

When asked if they want their state to opt for Medicaid expansion, 64 percent nationally are in favor. Among those who live in states that had already opted for Medicaid expansion, 65 percent approve. Sixty-two percent favor expansion, among those who live in states that have not opted for expansion. 

Because the sample is so large, it includes samples of 400 or more in eight states, affording the opportunity to assess views in those specific states. In all cases majorities favor expansion, ranging from 65-69 percent. 

Four of the eight states sampled were ones which have not opted for Medicaid expansion. In all of these four cases large majorities favor expansion including in Virginia (69 percent), Texas (67 percent), North Carolina (66 percent), and Florida (67 percent). In Oklahoma, which had a smaller sample of 307, 63 percent approve. 

“Though a modest majority of Republicans are opposed, a clear majority overall favors Medicaid expanding in the states that have not done so,” said PPC Director Steven Kull.

Support for expansion is not bipartisan. Nationally, 56 percent of Republicans oppose expansion, while 84 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents favor it. 

Respondent were presented an argument in favor of Medicaid expansion emphasizing the needs of low income people for medical insurance and the inefficiency of providing services to the poor via emergency rooms was found convincing by three quarters nationally, including 64 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats. Across the eight states the majorities finding it convincing ranged from 72 percent in North Carolina to 81 percent in Maryland. 

The argument against Medicaid expansion emphasized that the state would be taking on a new responsibility and that the Federal government might not continue to provide support putting onerous demands on the state and possibly crowding out other priorities. This argument was found convincing by 54 percent overall, including 70 percent of Republicans, but just 39 percent of Democrats. Across the eight states, the percentage finding this argument convincing ranged from 47 percent in North Carolina to 56 percent in Ohio and California. 

These questions were part of a larger survey on poverty programs that will be released at a later date. 

The survey was fielded Nov. 11, 2016 – Jan. 18, 2017. The panel of 7,128 respondents was drawn from Nielsen-Scarborough’s probability-based national panel, which was recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. Additional recruiting by telephone and mail was conducted by Communications for Research. The margin of error is +/- 1.2 percent. State samples: Calif. 682 (MoE +/- 3.8 percent); Fla. 423 (+/- 4.8 percent); Md. 486 (+/- 4.4 percent); N.C. 402 (+/- 4.9 percent); N.Y. 401 (+/- 4.9 percent); Ohio 509 (+/- 4.3 percent); Texas 398 (+/- 4.9 percent); and Va. 463 (+/- 4.6 percent). Oklahoma had a smaller sample of 307 (+/-5.6 percent).

A report providing a more thorough description of the survey can be seen here: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Medicaid_Expansion.pdf 

The questionnaire can be seen here:  http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Medicaid_Expansion_Quaire.pdf 
 

Trump’s Tax Reform Agenda Out of Step With Public

As the Trump administration pivots from healthcare to tax reform, a new, innovative survey reveals the Trump administration’s tax reform agenda is at odds with the public’s priorities.

Based on “Tax Reform That Will Make America Great Again,” a document issued by the Trump campaign in September 2016, the administration will seek to reduce income taxes, corporate taxes, taxes on capital gains and dividends, the estate tax, and taxes on pass-through entities. None of these reductions are favored by a majority of the public or even a majority of Republicans. The only Trump proposal to get majority support is for increasing taxes for carried interest.

In the survey, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, a representative sample of voters were given the opportunity to set revenue levels. Majorities increase income taxes for higher earners, corporations, and capital gains and dividends, while opposing reductions in the estate tax, or taxes on owners of pass-through-entities (e.g. partnerships). Overall the majority increase revenues by $112.2 billion per year. While Democrats increase revenues a bit more (118.5 billion), Republicans raise them somewhat less at $36.2 billion.

According to scoring of the Trump proposals by the Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation, the net effect of the reductions proposed by the Trump campaign in these six areas is a reduction of at least $441.9 billion in revenue. Thus the gap between the Trump proposals and the public’s positions is at least $555.1 billion.

“The American public appears to be far more concerned about the deficit than the President,” said PPC Director Steven Kull.

The one area where the public was in line with the Trump proposals was for increasing the tax on hedge fund managers, by taxing carried interest like ordinary income.

The survey took a representative sample of 1,800 registered voters through a process in which they were given the opportunity to make changes to existing taxes and to consider new tax proposals. As they went along they received input about the impact of their choices on the deficit, though they were not prompted to reduce the deficit. This is part of a larger study in which they were also given the opportunity to make changes to spending.

Personal Income Taxes
The Trump proposals call for reducing the top tax marginal tax bracket from 39.3 to 33 percent, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, and repealing numerous deductions. All income brackets would get some reduction, but just over three quarters of this reduction would go to the top twenty percent of taxpayers who would see their average tax rate reduced by 4.9 percent. The Tax Foundation, using dynamic scoring, projects that the resulting loss of Federal revenue will average at least $105.8 billion per year.  

For the public, the majority do not reduce the taxes of any income group. But they do make tax increases for higher earners income. Starting with a slight majority raising taxes on incomes starting at $100,000 (the top 22 percent of earners) by 5 percent, with larger percentages proposing 5 percent increases at higher income levels. At the million- dollar income level, 52 percent are ready to raise taxes by 10 percent. Majorities raised revenues a total of $63.3 billion.

Republicans start raising rates 5 percent on income starting at $200,000, producing a total of $34.1 billion in revenue. Democrats raise rates 5 percent starting at $100,000, going up to 10 percent starting at $500,000, producing a total of $69.6 billion in revenue.

Capital Gains and Dividends
Trump has proposed taxing capital gains and dividends at a rate that is half the rate of ordinary salary and wages, with a maximum rate of 16.5 percent. For most taxpayers this would constitute a tax cut and result in a reduction of revenues of $51 billion. But only 15 percent of respondents endorse this idea, (Republicans 21 percent, Democrats 10 percent).  On the contrary, 63 percent favor raising the tax rate from 23.8 to 28 percent for high-income earners (individuals with incomes of $430,000, couples at $500,000), increasing revenues by $22 billion (but just 49 percent of Republicans endorsed this position).

Corporate Taxes
Trump has called for a reduction of the top marginal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, repeal of the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax, and repeal of certain deductions, resulting in average annual reductions of $195.8 billion in revenue according to the Tax Foundation.  

Respondents were given the opportunity to increase or decrease the effective corporate tax rate (19.2 percent). A majority of 53 percent raise the effective tax rate to 20.2 percent, generating revenue of $17 billion. While 64 percent of Democrats take this step, only 41 percent of Republicans do so. However only 31 percent of Republicans lower the effective corporate tax rate.

Estate Tax
The Trump proposals call for eliminating the estate tax, which would reduce revenues by an average of $20 billion over the next 10 years. Just 22 percent of respondents, including 36 percent of Republicans favor this option. Rather, a slight majority of 51 percent favor raising the estate tax from the current 40 percent at least to 45 percent, increasing revenues by $7.8 billion (Democrats 65 percent, Republicans 37 percent).

 

 

 

Owners of Pass-Through-Entities
The Trump proposals specify making it possible for owners of pass- through-entities like sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S Corporations (which do not pay taxes on income) to not have their profits taxed like ordinary income as it is now, but rather to pay a maximum rate of 15 percent. This would result in a revenue reduction of $74.5 billion for 2018. This idea is rejected by large majorities, overall (66 percent) and among both parties (Republicans 62 percent, Democrats 70 percent).

 

 

Carried Interest
The one area where the public and the administration are in line is on requiring that managers of private investment funds, such as hedge fund managers, have their income taxed like ordinary income rather than as capital gains, which would increase revenues by $2.1 billion. This idea produces overwhelming consensus with 78 percent approving of it, including 75 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats.

The survey was fielded March 8-16 with a national probability-based sample of 1,817 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its sample of respondents, recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/-2.3 percent.

The full report, which includes responses to spending items and other revenue options, will be forthcoming in the next weeks.

A full chart of these spending recommendations with party breakdowns can be seen at: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Comparing_Revenues.pdf

The questionnaire can be seen at: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Budget_Quaire_Revenues.pdf

 

Trump’s Budget at Odds with Public’s Priorities

New In-depth Survey Finds 10 Major Spending Gaps

An innovative survey from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) reveals significant differences between the budget proposed in the Trump administration’s “Budget Blueprint” for 2018 and what the public recommends. The findings were released today by Voice Of the People.

For the top ten areas, the gaps between the spending proposals of the majority of the public and those of the Trump administration total $139.6 billion. For Republicans these gaps are narrower totaling $86.9 billion, while for Democrats the total is $188.5 billion.

“The gaps between the public’s proposed budget and the Trump administration’s budget are quite substantial,” said PPC Director Steven Kull, who directed the survey, “especially when it comes to military spending.”

Working on-line, a representative sample of more than 1800 registered voters were presented the authorized Federal budget for 2017, broken into 31 line items, and given the opportunity to make changes for 2018 as they saw fit, getting feedback as they went along about the impact of their choices on the budget deficit.

The ten major gaps between the majority position of the public and the Trump Budget Blueprint include:

Military Spending – $94.4 billion: By far the biggest gap is for the three components of military spending. Overall the Trump administration favors a $53.4 billion increase while the public favors a $41 billion cut – a $94.4 billion gap. For the base Pentagon budget, the Trump blueprint proposes a ten percent increase of $52 billion, while the majority of voters propose a five percent cut of $26 billion. For operations in in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State in Iraq, the administration wants to keep the current levels of $65 billion, however the public wants to see this cut back by $15 billion. For nuclear weapons, Trump calls for a seven percent buildup of $1.4 billion, while the public does not support an increase.

The gap between Trump’s military spending levels and those preferred by a majority of Republicans is smaller at $58.4 billion. A majority of Republicans favor no increase in the base budget, no increase in nuclear weapons spending and a $5 billion cut for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Democrats favor a $76 billion cut for the base budget, $15 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq and no increase for nuclear weapons—a $144.4 billion gap with Trump’s budget.

Education – $9 billion: For the Department of Education, overall the Trump administration makes a 13 percent reduction of $9 billion. The public overall does not make any changes to education. Republicans make a $9 billion cut ($5 billion for K-12, $4 billion for higher education), while Democrats make an increase of $3 billion ($2 billion for special education and $1 billion for higher education).

Veterans Affairs – $7.9 billion: For Veterans Affairs, Trump proposes a 4.5 percent increase of $7.9 billion (covering both mandatory and discretionary spending). But the public overall and neither Republicans nor Democrats want to see any increase.

Public Housing – $6.2 billion: For public housing, the Trump administration calls for a 13 percent cut of $6.2 billion. The public overall and the Democrats do not make a change, though a majority of Republicans call for a six percent cut of $3 billion.

State Department and AID – $6.1 billion: For spending on the State Department and the Agency for International Development the administration seeks a 28 percent cut of $10.1 billion from the core spending of $36 billion. The public agrees that there should be a cut, but only an 11 percent cut of $4 billion. A majority of Democrats do not make any cuts, but Republicans do cut $10 billion – in line with the president’s plan.

Medical Research – $5.8 billion: For spending on medical research the Trump administration favors a 17 percent cut of $5.8 billion for the National Institute of Health. The public overall and Democrats do not support any change, while Republicans are largely in line with the Trump administration, favoring a $5 billion cut.

Homeland Security – $4.8 billion: For Homeland Security the Trump administration wants a 7 percent increase of $2.8 billion, in part to make a down payment on the border wall with Mexico. The public overall and Democrats cut $2 billion. Republicans do not favor any change up or down, though “border protection” is mentioned as one of the activities in this category.

Space Program – $3.9 billion: The Trump administration only trims $100 million from the space program. However the public wants a $2 billion cut, though Republicans cut $4 billion and Democrats do not support a change.

Pollution Control – $2.6 billion: For spending on the Environmental Protection Agency, the Trump administration favors a 31 percent cut of $2.6 billion, while the public overall does not favor any change for pollution control. A majority of Republicans favors an 11 percent cut of $1 billion, while Democrats favor an 11 percent increase of $1 billion.

Mass Transit – $2 billion: The Trump administration calls for a $2 billion cut to Amtrak while the public overall does not favor any change in spending on mass transit. Republicans favor a $1 billion cut to mass transit, while Democrats favor a $1 billion increase.

The survey was fielded March 8-16 with a national probability-based sample of 1,817 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its sample of respondents, recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/-2.3 percent.

The full report, which includes additional spending items and proposals for revenues, will be forthcoming in the next weeks.

A full chart of these spending recommendations with party breakdowns can be seen at: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Comparing-Budgets.pdf

House Committee Takes up Postal Reform – Now So Can YOU!

After several false starts, Congress is once again taking up the issue of postal reform this week. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a full committee hearing today on a bipartisan bill, The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (HR 756). The bill proposes using cluster boxes, keeping Saturday delivery, addressing retiree benefits and pension liabilities, and cutting costs, saving $2.2 billion a year. But is this the right approach?

What to the American people think? Voice Of the People conducted an in-depth Citizen Cabinet survey to find out how the American people would reform the U.S. Post Office based on previous reform proposals and here is our full report

How would YOU reform the Postal Service? VOP also created an online simulation, designed to put you in Congress’ shoes, so the American people can have a voice on this issue. You can go through a background briefing prepared by a bipartisan group of experts, weigh the options Congress is facing, and share your views directly with your members of Congress. Try it now at: www.vop.org/consultations

Should the Post Office scale back pension liabilities and healthcare costs, close some post offices, offer new services to raise revenue? What about Saturday delivery, or rural service? The choices Congress faces are not easy. Here’s your chance to get informed, weigh the options, and make your voice heard.

Iran deal: Keep or Withdraw?

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed that the United States withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran and seek to negotiate a deal with better terms. This brief simulation provides information on the main terms of the deal that was negotiated between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as arguments for and against withdrawing and arguments for and against continuing with the deal.

Should the U.S. withdraw or continue with the deal? Try the Iran Policymaking Simulation

Most Americans Oppose Withdrawing from Iran Deal

With the Donald J. Trump administration just a couple of weeks away from taking over the nation’s foreign policy, a new survey from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) finds that nearly two thirds of Americans oppose withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and seeking to negotiate a better deal, as has been proposed by the president-elect.

“Though President-elect Trump campaigned on ripping up the deal and seeking to negotiate a better one, the majority of Americans would rather continue with the deal as long as Iran continues to comply with its terms.” said PPC Director Steven Kull.

Respondents were first presented the main terms of the deal that was negotiated between the UN Security Council (plus Germany) and Iran over its nuclear enrichment program and asked to evaluate arguments for and against withdrawing and seeking to renegotiate. Both arguments were found convincing by majorities. Six in ten expressed optimism that other UN members could be persuaded to join in the effort to renegotiate.

However, 69 percent said it was unlikely that Iran would agree to renegotiate the deal and make more concessions. This was a bipartisan perspective that included 64 percent of Republicans as well as 75 percent of Democrats.

When asked for their final recommendation, 64 percent recommended continuing with the deal as long as Iran continues to comply with the terms, while 34 percent opted for withdrawing and seeking to negotiate a better deal.

While an overwhelming 86 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents favored continuing with the deal, only 40 percent of Republicans concurred. Fifty eight percent of Republicans favored withdrawing and seeking to renegotiate.

Interestingly, support for renegotiating was high among Republicans, though even among those who favored renegotiation, 57 percent said it was unlikely that the negotiations would succeed.

The survey was fielded December 22-28, 2016 with a sample of 2,980 adult respondents drawn from Nielsen-Scarborough’s probability-based national panel (which was recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households). The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percent.

The questionnaire can be found at: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/US_Role_in_World_Quaire-IRAN.pdf



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