Pollster Scott Rasmussen is questioning the media’s interpretation of polling data that suggest the American public oppose spending cuts and favor spending increases for a variety of programs. In fact, Rasmussen says, Americans favor spending cuts. The misinterpretation, he says, is a result of the fact that the public and the political class interpret the word “cut” differently: in Washington, holding spending steady is defined as a “cut.”

In a recent, widely reported Pew Research Center poll, Rasmussen notes, a majority of Americans wanted to increase funding or maintain it at current levels for 18 out of 19 programs (the exception being foreign aid for the needy overseas). They were opposed to spending cuts, in the plain English meaning of the word–i.e. they did not want lower spending. But for most of those programs, he observes, a plurality wants to maintain spending at current levels–i.e. more people want to maintain current spending levels than to increase it or decrease it.

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