Facing mounting debt and a slow-to-recover economy, 62 percent of Americans prefer defense cuts over other debt reduction options, a survey by the Program for Public Consultation found.
The results, released in a May 10 report, outlined the responses of survey takers to a series of arguments for and against defense cuts. Faced with the choice of raising revenues, including tax increases, reducing other discretionary spending or reducing defense, a clear majority preferred defense cuts.
Among Republicans, 49 percent preferred cutting defense, 52 percent of independents preferred the option and 78 percent of Democrats agreed.
The survey, conducted in mid-April over the Internet, drew on the responses of 665 American adults and had a margin of error of 4.8 percent.
Given the option to set a level for 2013 defense spending, 76 percent of respondents cut spending compared with 2012. More than two-thirds of respondents in all three self-identified voting categories chose to reduce defense spending.
Part of the interest in cutting defense may be the result of surprise at the magnitude of defense spending. A majority said that defense spending is more than expected when compared with other discretionary spending, historical trends and spending by potential enemies.
A plurality said the spending was larger than expected when compared with Social Security and Medicare, while a plurality said that defense spending is less then expected when shown as a percentage of gross domestic product.
“What is striking is that it appears that the American people, unlike Congress, are able to thoughtfully recognize the validity of arguments both for and against cutting defense spending and still come to hard and even bold decisions,” Steve Kull, who helped run the survey, said in a press release accompanying the report.