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Americans fret over budget before partisan battle over spending

By Matthew Rusling (Xinhua)

13:37, March 28, 2013

WASHINGTON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Americans are becoming increasingly concerned over the nation's budget as the U.S. Congress gears up for a knock-down fight over the issue, polls said.

A Gallup poll released earlier this week ranked federal spending and the budget deficit as the No. 2 issues about which Americans showed a "great deal" of concern.

At the same time, Congressional Democrats and Republicans are expected to go head to head in the wake of the recess, after the Democrat-led Senate last weekend passed a budget including 1 trillion U.S. dollars in tax hikes. Republicans decried the action, vowing not to support any new taxes.

Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, said Americans' position on the issue is somewhat muddled.

On the one hand, Americans want to cut the deficit but on the other hand can not see that cutting spending would result in more short-term joblessness.

Kull cited a Gallup poll result earlier this month that 72 percent of Americans favor a federal law that invests government money in helping create more than 1 million jobs.

Meanwhile, Americans are more focused on stabilizing the deficit mainly because the issue has seen much recent play in the media.

"Right now Americans are ... more engaged by the question of how important it is to decrease the deficit," Kull said, noting that "it's the issue that Congress is making decisions about, it's the issue that could lead to the government shutdown."

Critics of huge government spending contended that it is unsustainable and benefits primarily the well-connected. Seven counties in Washington D.C. comprise the majority of the nation's 10 wealthiest ones, as lobbyists benefit from government largess and an increasing number of federal bureaucrats.

Critics also point out that the economy is booming in the D.C. area while the rest of the country struggles with high unemployment.

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