Washington A majority of Americans say they support trimming tax cuts as a way to handle the shrinking federal budget surplus, but they oppose cutting planned spending in such areas as education and drug prescription benefits, according to a poll released Monday.
An overwhelming number say they oppose handling the shrinking surplus by using money raised by the Social Security program.
In the ABC News-Washington Post poll, more than half, 53 percent, blamed the lower budget surplus on President Bush, while nearly four in 10, 38 percent, blamed the Democrats in Congress.
Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a fierce debate over the causes of the shrinking surplus and what should be done to deal with it. Administration officials have been lobbying for additional spending for defense and education and say Congress needs to trim spending elsewhere. Some Democrats are pushing the president to rescind part of the tax cut.
Budget estimates this year suggest that money raised by the Social Security program will be used in this year's budget, although politicians in both parties say they're opposed to that use of the money.
When those in the poll were asked which steps they support to deal with the shrinking surplus:
Nearly six in 10, 57 percent, said they support reducing the size of the tax cut.
Just over half opposed the abandonment of plans to increase military spending.
Nine in 10 opposed taking surplus money from the Social Security program and spending it on other programs.
Two-thirds or more opposed abandoning plans to increase education spending and to improve prescription drug benefits for seniors.
The poll of 1,009 adults was conducted Thursday through Sunday and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Positive ratings of the national economy have slid from almost nine in 10 to about one-third now. Just over half in the poll, 53 percent, said they think a recession is on the way. One in five said they thought the tax cut was helping the economy, half the number who said in July they thought the tax cut would help.
President Bush's job approval remained at a healthy 55 percent, bolstered by 2-1 approval of his handling of education. People were evenly split on whether they approved of his handling of the economy.
They gave Democrats a slight edge over the Republican president when asked who they trusted more in handling the economy.