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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Public on Federal Budget: We Can Handle the Truth

Two new public opinion research studies being released today from the nonpartisan "Facing Up to the Nation's Finances" initiative conclude that the American public has little difficulty understanding the magnitude of the fiscal challenge facing the United States and is willing to consider tough tradeoffs to address the growing national debt. But their support for program cuts, reforms or tax increases comes with one key condition: finding ways to increase trust that their leaders will spend their money responsibly and for the purposes intended.

The two reports are from Public Agenda and Viewpoint Learning. Public Agenda's opinion research report is based on a series of six focus groups held across the country in March and April 2006. The focus group research served as grounding for a more in-depth ChoiceDialogues conducted by Viewpoint Learning. The report concludes, "The main obstacle to building public support for difficult choices on our nation's finances and future is not public opposition to tax increases or to program cuts, nor is it public lack of interest; the main obstacle is a deeply felt and pervasive mistrust of government."

"Facing Up to the Nation's Finances" is an initiative developed by Public Agenda and Viewpoint Learning drawing on the research and analysis done at The Brookings Institution, The Concord Coalition and The Heritage Foundation.

The "Facing Up" initiative aims to organize a nonpartisan movement of citizens and leaders in honest public dialogue to call for meaningful action in confronting the long-term challenges to our future. The initiative involves new forms of opinion research, public engagement and intensive engagement of leadership in a multi-year project leading up to the 2008 presidential elections and beyond.


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