Americans Say More Than Half of Federal Government Spending Is Wasteful

A Gallup Poll earlier this month found Americans' estimation of money wasted by the federal government at an all-time high. The poll asked a random sample of Americans to estimate how many cents the federal government wastes per tax dollar they spend. The responses averaged 51 cents wasted per tax dollar. Although similar to 2009's estimate of 50 cents, this is the first time since the survey began in 1979 that Americans have indicated that more than half of federal spending is wasteful. The estimation was lowest in 1986, with Americans estimating that 38 cents per dollar were wasted by the federal government. Americans have consistently perceived the federal government as more wasteful than both state and local governments, however these estimates are increasing as well.


Although estimates did not vary largely across political affiliations, they were influenced by more general ideologies. Conservatives were much more likely than liberals to view federal government spending as wasteful, with conservatives estimating 56 cents of every dollar and liberals estimating 44. In addition to conservatives, senior citizens and Americans with less formal education had high estimations. Americans aged 65 and older had an average estimate of 56 cents wasted per dollar, greater than that of 18- to 29-year-olds by 10 cents. Americans with a high school education or less had an average estimate of 52 cents wasted per dollar, 7 cents higher than the average estimates of Americans with postgraduate educations.

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