Poll: By 2-to-1 Margin, Americans Say U.S. Debt Owed to China Now Greater Threat than Terrorism
March 5, 2010 - 6:02 PMFifty-eight percent of the American people think the amount of money that China holds against the U.S. in debt is more of a threat than radical Islamist groups, according to a new Zogby poll.
According to a Zogby International poll, 58 percent said the debt was a greater concern, versus just 27 percent who chose terrorism perpetrated by “radical Islamists.”
The polling firm asked respondents: “When you think about the long-term security and well-being of the U.S., which of these do you believe is a more serious threat?”
Political ideology did not change the results significantly, the pollster pointed out.
“Interestingly, there was little variation by party identification with a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agreeing that the debt owed by the United States to China poses the greater threat,” the Zogby report said. “Opinion was consistent across all other major demographic and politics sub-groups.”
Democrats barely strayed from the overall 58 percent-27 percent spread, with 57 percent of Democrats choosing the debt owed to China and 24 percent more concerned with Islamic terrorism. Likewise, independents broke 59 percent for the debt and 28 percent for terrorist attacks. The GOP followed suit, at 61-32.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans were more apt to choose one or the other as a serious threat, with just 2 percent (within the margin of error) choosing “Neither.” Conversely, 12 percent of Democrats said neither.
The GOP has made the skyrocketing debt a prime issue of late. After President Obama introduced his record $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year 2011, which carried a record trillion-plus-dollar deficit, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the new debt incurred was “astonishing.”
“This budget provides a startling figure that should stop us all in our tracks,” he said on the floor of the Senate.
“In fact, in just four years the administration predicts the government will have to spend more just to pay interest on the federal debt than it spends on the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, HUD (Housing and Urban Development), Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Treasury, and the Corps of Engineers, Environment Protection Agency, GSA (General Services Administration), NASA, National Science Foundation, Small Business Administration and the Social Security Administration -- combined.”
After Democrats voted to increase the debt ceiling to more than $14 trillion to accommodate new spending, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee said on the floor that the House had “bequeathed the next generation an inferior standard of living.”
“I didn’t come here to make sure that my three kids are going to have a life that’s worse off than ours.”
Democrats, on the other hand, often say that deficit spending is the best way to spur new economic growth, and that the red ink of okay for the short term.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to defend the budget in the first week of February and told members there was a “very strong economic case” for elevated government spending.
“Our basic test should be what’s going to add jobs, what’s going to add spark to investment, what’s going to provide good leverage for the taxpayers’ money, and we need to make sure we’re doing that in a way that’s fiscally responsible over the medium term,” Geithner said.