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Americans Want Taxes Spent on Health Care and Education


Business owners name taxpaying as one of their greatest hurdles to success. Now, thanks to a new survey, we know how Americans would like to see those taxes spent. The information is particularly timely as Washington debates the budget and wrangles over what to cut and what to keep.

By a notable margin, education and health care were the top two spending priorities of Americans. And Americans are consistent in these priorities: those two categories have finished in the top two in each of the ten surveys since 1990, according to the General Social Survey (GSS), conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Rounding out the top ten spending priorities were assistance to the poor  stopping crime,  Social Security, the environment,  dealing with drug addiction,  child care, drug rehabilitation, and  law enforcement. Finishing lowest in priority — as it has in every survey since 1973 — is foreign assistance. The study surveys public preferences in 22 spending categories.

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The findings have additional significance in that they are derived from the first GSS to be conducted since the 2008 economic meltdown. Despite the poor economy and the pinch of taxes for a majority (in 2010, 53 percent said their federal taxes were too high, 46 percent about right and 2 percent too low), Americans back more spending in about three-quarters of the areas and less spending only in the bottom quarter.


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.