Voters back steep cuts in federal payroll

The presidential debt commission's recommendation to downsize the federal payroll by 10 percent during the next decade wins a landslide two-thirds approval from voters, according to a poll released Monday.

The proposal, which the commission's draft plan claimed would eliminate roughly 200,000 positions and save $13.2 billion, garnered 66 percent of respondents in favor, with 22 percent opposed and 12 percent unsure, according to the Rasmussen Reports poll.

The results both echo the insistence on renewed fiscal conservatism that voters sounded in the November 2 midterms and fuel momentum behind the commission's bitter prescriptions-unveiled earlier this month to criticism from across the spectrum, but met with approval from constituencies whose backing showed the perceived gravity of the problem.

Rasmussen asked 1,000 likely voters about cutting the payroll either by slimming the ranks of federal employees or cutting their pay. Earlier surveys have pointed to public opinion that government workers earn more than their private sector counterparts.

A crusade for smaller government became one of the major anthems of the 2010 midterms, and proved a winning strategy in many states, as tea party-backed candidates rode a pox-on-both-their-parties message that held both Democrats and Republicans responsible for inability to check spending, reduce the deficit, and control the national debt.

Spending cuts weren't the only prescription unfurled by the panel, co-chaired by former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. Along with domestic and military spending cuts and curtailed Social Security and Medicare growth, the preliminary plan calls for stripping tax deductions while lowering rates and elevating the gas tax.

Final recommendations are due December 1, with support from 14 of the 18 members required to hand Congress an up-or-down vote on the package. More likely is the re-emergence next year of selected provisions of the report.

The poll was conducted November 19-20, with a 3-point error margin.

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