From:social [email protected] To:[email protected],[email protected],[email protected],[email protected] Subject: Social Cohesion: Why Americans Have Less Trust in the Federal Government Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2006 14:38:00 GMT From:[email protected] To:[email protected] Subject: SOCIAL COHOLITY: WHY AMERICANS HAVE LESS TRUST IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT [From:[email protected]] Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2006 05:51:12 GMT [From]laura McCarthy,Council [email protected] Bay Times,July 25, 2006 3:28:50–In recent years, a growing number of Americans have questioned the legitimacy of the federal system and of the political system in which they live.
In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans reported that they were concerned about the stability of the government, and many more said they were worried about the economic future.
Many have also become increasingly dissatisfied with their government.
What do Americans really believe about the Federal government?
We recently asked the people we interviewed, who were all members of the Tampa Bay Times’ political panel, to rank the government’s legitimacy based on a variety of factors: the extent to which they trusted the government to protect their safety, their privacy, their rights, and the well-being of their communities.
The panelists were also asked whether they were satisfied with the federal budget, and were asked to evaluate the performance of the president, Congress, and other government officials.
A majority of Americans also say that the Federal budget has not improved over the past two years, and another substantial number, perhaps a third, say it has not been effective in addressing problems in the economy.
Americans’ assessments of the current federal budget have a clear partisan dimension.
Americans of all political stripes rate the current budget as “not effective” by a two-to-one margin, while Republicans rate it as “very effective” and Democrats rate it “very ineffective.”
By comparison, the budget of the previous year by the current administration, $1.9 trillion, was rated “not at all effective” in terms of the quality of the budget, while the current $2.4 trillion budget is rated “very well” in the area of budgeting.
While there are differences in the rating of the two administrations, the public is generally more concerned about a lack of progress on a number of priorities, such as protecting civil liberties, fighting global terrorism, and addressing the economic crisis.
What are some of the most prominent political differences that Americans have with the Federal Budget?
The two main political differences between Republicans and Democrats are about the budget and about how it is being managed.
Nearly two-fifths of Americans (58%) think that the current spending level of the Federal Department of Education is too high, while just 29% think it is too low.
Similarly, about half (49%) of Republicans and 50% of Democrats believe that the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs is too large.
And just 38% of Republicans think that veterans benefits are sufficiently generous to help pay for the federal debt.
The only other major difference is the extent of funding the government provides for programs that benefit people and small businesses.
Republicans (57%) are much more likely than Democrats (32%) to believe that taxpayers should be paying more into the Social Security trust fund than they are now.
The same is true of people with college degrees, who are more likely to say they would pay more in Social Security than they would now if the Social Services Administration were fully funded.
A third of all Americans (32%), by contrast, would not be affected by changes to Social Security benefits.
How would you rate the Federal Federal Budget for the next five years?
Americans are evenly divided about how to rate the budget.
A quarter (24%) say it is “poor” or “very poor” and about one-third (35%) say “fairly poor.”
Americans who are not members of any political party are more pessimistic than the public overall about the future of the nation’s finances.
By comparison of past years, Americans overall are much less pessimistic about the current fiscal year (February to April) than they were last year (March to July).
About three-quarters (74%) say that Congress should make major cuts to government programs and services, while roughly a third (35%) say that they should not.
The public overall is divided over whether they think the federal deficit will increase over the next few years, though a majority (56%) say they are not concerned about that possibility