March 29, 2023
Asked generally about government spending, 60% of the public says the U.S. government is spending too much, 16% think it is spending too little and only 22% say it is spending the right amount.
There has been a significant increase in the perception that the U.S. government is spending too much since February 2020, when 37% said the government was overspending.
Most Republicans say the government is spending too much. Democrats, however, are more evenly split on their views on government spending. Older adults are more likely to think the government is overspending than younger adults.
Education, health care, Social Security, infrastructure, assistance to the poor, and Medicare top a long list of public policy issues that the public says the government is spending too little on, while two-thirds of the public say the government is overspending on assistance to other countries or foreign aid.
Partisanship is predictably correlated with attitudes toward government spending for most issues. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the government is spending too little on the environment, assistance to the poor, childcare, drug rehabilitation, education, and health care. Republicans would prefer increased government spending on the military, border security, and law enforcement.
Yet, Democrats and Republicans agree the government spends too little on infrastructure and Social Security, and they think there is overspending on assistance to other countries and space exploration.
The public is split on the size of government they prefer. Democrats and younger adults prefer a bigger government providing more services, while Republicans and older adults would rather have a smaller government.
Only 34% approve the way Joe Biden is handling the federal budget compared to 65% who disapprove. Sixty-five percent of Democrats approve the way president Biden is handling this issue, while 94% of Republicans disapprove.
The nationwide poll was conducted March 16-20, 2023 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,081 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.0 percentage points.
- Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (March 2023). “Many dissatisfied with the government’s spending priorities” https://apnorc.org/projects/many-dissatisfied-with-the-governments-spending-priorities