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Americans Want Less Spending, Lower Taxes | Commentary

An overwhelming two-thirds — 66 percent — of Americans agreed that the federal government should reduce spending. On taxes, 62 percent believe taxes should be lowered to create jobs and grow the economy.

Respondents cited strong concern about the national debt, with 62 percent opposing the president’s plan to increase the debt over the next five years. They also were rightfully skeptical of the claim that higher taxes are needed to pay down the debt; 54 percent said they believed the government would simply use the new revenues for more spending, rather than reducing debt.

Over the past six months, Americans have witnessed a bruising series of debates over taxes and spending in Washington. In December, they watched the fiscal cliff debacle, which ended in higher taxes for the majority of Americans but did not include spending cuts. This was followed by the bitter dispute over the sequester, $500 billion in reductions to government spending slated for the next decade that began to take effect in March.

By the time our poll was taken, Americans had had time to assess the effects of these policies. Their preference is clear: They’d rather see fewer tax hikes and more spending restraint.

In our poll, we asked respondents to assess the president’s assertion that his budget isn’t “a lot of smoke and mirrors.” A majority, 54 percent, disagreed; they recognize “smoke and mirrors” as the Obama administration’s go-to tactic when it comes to talking about taxes and spending.

The president is fond of invoking poll results when they happen to coincide with what he was already planning to do. Here’s hoping he’ll take these latest poll numbers to heart and change course on government spending.

Congress too loves to tout its initiative to do the work constituents sent them to Washington to do. They must follow through on that commitment, which means their job is not done until they hold a joint conference committee and produce a budget that can pass both chambers.

Washington lawmakers like to talk a lot about putting aside politics and making tough choices. Here is one of those moments.

Gretchen Hamel is executive director of Public Notice. Hamel served as deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs in President George W. Bush’s administration.

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