Only 11% of Americans Grasp the Ryan Budget

Under the budget proposed by Paul Ryan, federal spending on everything other than Medicare and Social Security would decline over the next 20 years …

(a) from 22% of GDP to 18.5% of GDP

(b) from 22% of GDP to 14.5% of GDP

(c) from 14.5% of GDP to 11.5% of GDP

(d) from 14.5% of GDP to 7% of GDP.

In this week’s YouGov survey, 34% of Americans chose (b); 23% chose (a); 15% chose©; only 11% chose the correct answer (as scored by the Congressional Budget Office), (d). (The remaining 16% declined to hazard a guess.)

In other words,

(1) most people vastly overestimate how much the federal government is currently spending;

(2) a plurality expect the Ryan budget to reduce federal spending in 20 years to the level it is at right now; and

(3) among the minority who have an accurate sense of current spending, most vastly underestimate the magnitude of the cuts Ryan has proposed.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

Larry Bartels

Larry Bartels is a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.