Despite concern about mounting federal debt, majorities or pluralities continue to favor increased spending in five of 18 program areas. Fully 62% favor increased funding for education — the highest percentage for any program tested and little changed from 2009 (67%). Increased spending is also favored by majorities or pluralities for public schools, veterans benefits, health care and aid to the needy in the U.S. In all, there is only one area — economic assistance to needy people around the world — for which a plurality favors cutting federal spending. But in two areas in particular — aid for the unemployed and national defense — the public’s attitudes toward federal spending have changed dramatically. Currently, as many favor decreasing spending as increasing spending for assistance to the unemployed and national defense. In 2009, far more supported funding increases than decreases for these programs. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.