Americans overwhelmingly believe that the biggest problem with the U.S. welfare system is there are too many recipients who do not qualify to be on the rolls rather than not enough. Most also think legal immigrants should have to wait at least three years before being eligible for welfare benefits.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 71 percent of American adults say the bigger problem with welfare programs in the United States is that too many people get welfare who should not. Just 18 percent say the bigger issue is that too many people who should receive welfare do not get it, while another 11 percent are not sure.
The national survey of 1,000 adults was conducted on August 16-17, 2011; the margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points.
Republicans, 91 percent, and adults not affiliated with either political party, 70 percent, believe much more strongly than Democrats, 51 percent, that the bigger problem with welfare is that too many ineligible people are on the rolls.
Fifty-nine percent of all Americans also think immigrants who follow the law and enter the United States legally should have to wait three years or more before collecting welfare benefits, including 31 percent who believe they should wait more than five years. Seventeen percent think three years is enough, while 11 percent prefer a five-year waiting period.
Fourteen percent think one year is an appropriate waiting period for legal immigrants to be eligible for welfare, but 16 percent believe there should be no wait at all; 11 percent are undecided.
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