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Facing Up to the Nation's Finances: Understanding Public Attitudes About the Federal Budget

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Abstract:

Two public opinion research studies from the nonpartisan "Facing Up to the Nation's Finances" initiative conclude that the public has little difficulty understanding the magnitude of the fiscal challenge facing the nation and is willing to consider tough tradeoffs to address the growing national debt. But public support comes with one key condition: finding ways to increase trust that their leaders will spend their money responsibly.

Public Agenda's focus group report, Facing Up to the Nation's Finances: Understanding Public Attitudes about the Federal Budget, found while the public was uninformed on federal budget issues, they required relatively little information to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. But the public's deeply felt cynicism about government is a major barrier that must be addressed before progress can be made.