Americans overestimate U.S. budget items

April 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) -- Most Americans think the federal government spends more money than it really does on programs such as foreign aid and public broadcasting, a CNN poll indicates.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Friday indicated 60 percent of Americans say they want to eliminate foreign aid, estimating it eats 10 percent to 30 percent of the federal budget.

Data from the Office of Management and Budget indicates, the figure is closer to 1 percent, CNN said.

Defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was a popular option for about 50 percent of Americans, who estimated it is 5 percent of the budget, results indicated. CPB funding accounts for about 0.1 percent, OMB data indicated.

"The public has a better idea of how much the government spends on programs like Social Security and Medicare, but there is a related problem -- cutting them has little public support," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The result: Cutting unpopular programs would probably not cut the deficit very much, and cutting the deficit would probably require cuts in programs that Americans like."

When asked to guess how much Social Security cost the government in 2010, the median estimate was 20 percent. OMB figures indicate that Social Security represented 20.4 percent of the 2010 budget.

Results are based on nationwide interviews conducted with 1,023 adults March 11-13. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

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