Despite a dislike of taxes (e.g. in 2014, 57.0% said their own federal income tax was too high, 39.0% about right, 1.6% too low, and 2.4% don’t know), more people have always favored increases in spending than cuts.
In 2014, as in most years since the 1970s, people have backed more spending in about four-fifths of the areas and less spending in only the bottom quintile.
Moreover, the number of areas with positive net spending scores not only outnumbered areas with negative scores, but are also larger. In 2014, the largest negative score (-61.7 for Foreign Aid) was bested by the top positive score (Education +66.6) and other top positive scores were well above the other negative scores.
The level of support has however waxed and waned over the decades.
Support for both overall spending and domestic social spending declined from the early 1970s to the early 1980s before rebounding to a peak in 1990.
Then support again fell off to lows in 1994-1996.
After that support again picked up with overall spending peaking in 2006 and domestic social spending topping off in 2008. Both scales fell during the economic downturn.
The over-spending score has started to rise again, but support for domestic social spending has not recovered.
Currently Education is clearly the public’s top spending priority with a very high score (+67) that is above even other very popular areas like Halting Crime, Assistance to the Poor the Environment, Social Security, Dealing with Drug Addiction, and Alternative Energy (+46 to +53).