Most voters prefer Republican fiscal policies, but still trust Democrats more on basic budget matters, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill newspaper.
On the trust issue, the poll of 1,000 likely voters taken March 14 reveals the Republican Party still has a lingering image problem tied to their election losses last year, when voters rejected House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to erase the deficit by making deeper spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
But when asked which of two approaches on dealing with the nation's fiscal woes they would prefer without a clue as to which party the plans were tied to, 55 percent chose the rejuvenated plan offered by Ryan that slashes $5 trillion in spending over 10 years to balance the budget.
Only 28 percent chose the plan offered by Senate Democratic Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray that includes $1 trillion in new tax revenues and $100 billion in new spending on infrastructure.
An even higher number, 65 percent, said deficits should be reduced by cutting spending – the Republican method – rather than by raising taxes, which Democrats prefer. Only 24 percent said they favor increasing taxes in order to balance the budget.
Ironically, many of the voters who identified themselves as Democrats supported Republican proposals. The poll, for example, found that 44 percent of Democratic respondents said deficits should be reduced by raising taxes, but 40 percent said the government should curb spending.
Republicans stuck with the party line, with 88 percent saying spending should be cut.
The opinions quickly changed, however, when the budget plans were identified as either Republican or Democratic and respondents were asked which party they trust to handle budget matters. At that point, 35 percent of respondents said they trust Democrats on budget issues more than they trust Republicans, while 30 percent said they trust Republicans more. Thirty-four percent said they didn't trust either party.
The responses appeared to indicate the GOP still has a long way to go in restoring some of the trust it has enjoyed in past years as the party that can best handle the nation's budget and economic problems.
On another budget issue, most respondents in the poll did agree with the Republicans' call for the repeal of Obamacare, with 45 percent agreeing it should be eliminated and 37 percent saying it should be left alone.
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