Americans want more spent on government programs, but lower taxes for themselves, a survey shows.
BY EMILY SWANSON - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — Americans want lower taxes and more government spending both at once, although their support for spending more tax dollars on health care has dropped dramatically. They’re likelier than ever to not feel connected to any particular religion, but no less likely to believe in God. And for the first time, most want to legalize marijuana.
Those are among findings from the 2014 General Social Survey, which has been measuring trends in American opinion and behavior since 1972.
The survey, which is conducted by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, puts wide-ranging and long-running questions about a large array of issues to the public. Data from the 2014 survey was released this month, and an analysis of its findings was conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the General Social Survey.
LOWER TAXES, MORE SPENDING: No wonder Washington is tied in knots trying to please the people. The people want more spent on many government programs, yet lower taxes for themselves.
Out of 22 items asked about in the survey, Americans are more likely to want cuts than increased spending on only four of them – welfare, foreign aid, assistance to big cities and the space program. Education rates as Americans’ highest priority for more spending, with 70 percent saying the country spends too little. Majorities of Americans want more spent on Social Security, assistance to the poor, alternative energy sources, crime and drug addiction. But 57 percent say their own taxes are too high.
STILL BELIEVERS, BUT NOT JOINERS: The portion of Americans saying they have no religious preference has increased dramatically since 1972, when only 5 percent of Americans said they didn’t identify with any particular religion. In 2014, 21 percent of Americans said they had no religion – a record high. Younger Americans are especially likely to fall into that group, with 30 percent of those under age 35 saying they have no religion.
But just 3 percent say they don’t believe in God, while 5 percent say they’re agnostic. Fifty-eight percent say God exists, and 70 percent believe in life after death.
UP WITH POT: For the first time since the survey first asked the question in 1975, a majority of Americans supported legal marijuana in 2014. Fifty-two percent of Americans now say marijuana should be legal, while 42 percent think it should be illegal. That’s a big jump in support for legalizing the drug since 2012, when only 43 percent said they were in favor. Twenty-five years ago, in 1990, just 16 percent supported legal marijuana.
EROSION ON HEALTH CARE: The percentage of Americans who think the country spends too little on improving and protecting health has dropped dramatically since 75 percent said so in 2008, probably as a result of the 2010 enactment of President Obama’s health care law. But more than half of Americans – 57 percent – still think the country should be spending more.
pressherald.com - Poll: Spend more, tax less, legalize pot