Changing Expectations: Americans deliberate our nation’s finances and future

Source: Steven A. Rosell, Isabella Furth, Heidi Gantwerk, Viewpoint Learning, September 2008

From the press release:
A new study, to be released September 22, reveals that the American people are willing to make sacrifices – in the form of spending cuts and tax increases — to address growing federal fiscal imbalances, yet would do so only if they see greater government accountability.

It is vital for Americans to have a serious conversation about national priorities, burgeoning entitlement programs, what we expect from the Federal government, and what we are willing to pay for government services. But building public understanding of, and support for, difficult choices is easier said than done. Leaders are not sure whether or how they can reach Americans on these issues — let alone what solutions the public would find acceptable if they did.

To help better understand Americans’ attitudes about these issues, Viewpoint Learning – in partnership with Public Agenda, The Concord Coalition, The Brookings Institution and The Heritage Foundation – has conducted a nationwide series of ChoiceDialogues™ over the last two years. In these daylong sessions, representative samples of Americans worked to come to terms with the challenges facing America’s finances and future. What they found, in dialogue after dialogue across the country, is that the main obstacle to building public support for the difficult choices we face is not public opposition to tax increases or program cuts, nor is it public lack of interest. The main obstacle is a deeply felt and pervasive mistrust of government.

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