WASHINGTON, March 4 A sound plan is needed to
reduce the U.S. budget deficit over the next 10 years, but
wholesale government spending cuts should not be the core of the
program, according to a new survey of economists.
The National Association for Business Economics' poll of 196
members found more than 70 percent opposed the full
implementation of $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as
the "sequester" that were set to start taking hold last Friday.
The International Monetary Fund last week warned that the
spending cuts, if fully implemented, could shave at least 0.5
percentage point off gross domestic product this year.
"A significant majority of panelists was opposed to full
budget sequestration," NABE policy survey committee chairman Jay
Bryson said in a statement.
"However, there was nearly unanimous agreement that some
form of deficit reduction should be enacted over the next 10
years," said Bryson, who is also a senior economist at Wells
Economists favored spending cuts to reduce the deficit over
the long-term, with most respondents indicating that cuts should
be focused primarily on entitlement programs - Social Security
retirement and Medicare healthcare.
About one-third of respondents who supported cutting the
deficit also favored an equal mix of spending cuts and tax
increases. That compared to 45 percent in the previous survey.
Only 12 percent believed the deficit should be reduced
"mostly" by raising taxes. Less than one percent believed that
the budget gap could be reduced "only" through higher taxes.