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90% Call Deficit Serious Threat, Many Would End Tax Breaks

April 05, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Nine of 10 Americans view the government deficit as a serious threat and 65% are "fed up" with the federal income tax, pollster Louis Harris said Thursday.

Most persons are willing to give up some personal tax breaks to correct the problems, he said.

Harris told Congress' Joint Economic Committee that most of the 1,253 adults he surveyed would give top priority to significantly reducing the deficit, which is running about $200 billion a year. But the people want both, he said.

"The budget deficit is viewed as being sufficiently serious and ominous in its consequence that they are willing to endure some personal pain in the process of bringing it under control," Harris said.

He added: "People have become downright cynical and resentful of the tax system, viewing it as a rip-off for the privileged and at the expense of the broad middle-income families of the country."

The survey is in conflict with the widespread view in Congress that voters will not be concerned about the deficit until it affects them and that they believe there is little urgency in reducing the red ink as long as the economy is growing, inflation is down and unemployment is not rising.

By a 90-4 margin, those polled called the deficit a threat to the nation. Eighty-four percent said they believe that it is a serious threat to their personal well-being. Three out of four fear it will push up interest rates and inflation in the next 12 months; 68% say it will increase unemployment; 62% fear it could cause a recession.

To the 85% who said that cutting the deficit by more than half is an important goal, Harris asked how they would accomplish that if they were members of Congress. Given the choice between relying solely on spending cuts and tax increases, 82% favored the former.

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