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New Poll, Same Public Resistance to Cuts

A big obstacle for House Republicans eager to slash the federal budget deficit may be that Republicans nationally tend to shy away from spending cuts in many major government programs.

Budget cutting is a top priority for the GOP, with 70 percent of Republicans in a new survey by the Pew Research Center saying the federal government should focus on reducing the deficit, not new economic stimulus. And in many cases, more Republicans now support cuts than did so two years ago.

But across 18 areas of federal spending, a majority of Republicans support decreasing spending in just one: aid to the world's needy. In one other area, unemployment assistance, 50 percent of Republicans polled said they would decrease spending (far higher than the 11 percent who said they would increase it), but in all others the number saying funds should be cut is under the 50 percent mark.

When it comes to three big ticket items - Social Security, Medicare and defense spending - more Republicans want increases than decreases in federal outlays.

Support for budget cuts is, unsurprisingly, lower still among Democrats and independents.

There are challenges aplenty for both parties in the new Pew data - about as many hold unfavorable view of the Democratic Party as do so of the GOP - but the tepid public appetite for budget cuts complicates the political terrain for all budget hawks.

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