Americans view mounting deficit as major threat: survey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American voters regard the country’s ballooning budget deficit and national debt as major threats to the United States’ future, but there is no consensus on how and when to tackle the problem, according to a survey.

The survey by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies published on Wednesday found that voters believed the political leadership in Washington was not paying enough attention to these two issues.

“Voters see these long-term economic trends, specifically the country’s growing budget deficit and national debt, as very serious and significant threats to the nation and its future,” the organizers of the survey said in a statement.

The survey of 1,008 registered voters was conducted between February 18-23.

The Obama administration, struggling to revive an economy that has been entangled in a recession since December 2007, is projecting a budget deficit of $1.8 trillion, or 12.3 percent of gross domestic product, in fiscal 2009, which ends September 30.

It says about $1.3 trillion was inherited from the Bush administration and has pledged to cut the budget deficit to about 3 percent of GDP by 2013. At 12.3 percent of GDP, this year’s budget deficit is the biggest since 1945.

There is no consensus among voters on the need and timing of fiscal reforms to address the budget gap, the poll showed.

“Voters are divided about whether now is the right time to undertake significant fiscal reforms to deal with the deficit, given the current state of the economy,” the statement said.

“There is a nearly even split between those who believe that major structural reforms will be required to address this situation, and those who say that simply cutting fraud, waste, and abuse along with reducing funding for the Iraq war will adequately address the country’s long-term budget problems.”

Voters, however, support the creation of a special bipartisan commission to come up with recommending solutions to Congress.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Jonathan Oatis