The average respondent made three quarters of the cuts in defense, followed by trims to intelligence and the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Smaller cuts were made to programs such as veterans’ benefits, the highway system, space exploration, and subsidies for large farms. Those cuts were slightly offset by some increases that even tea party sympathizers favored: investing more in job training, pollution control, energy conservation, humanitarian assistance, education and small farms.

The majority firmly opposed instituting a national sales tax or valued added tax. But majorities favored increasing the tax rate for capital gains and restoring the tax on stock dividends to 20 percent, where it stood prior to the Bush-era tax cuts. Americans backed closing the loophole that allows private investment fund managers to have a significant part of their income taxed at only 15 percent, which allows an ultra-rich sector to avoid the tax burden borne by most Americans. The majority also favored a tax on large banks and increased corporate taxes. Most would also repeal tax deductions for the oil and gas industry.

Americans have long favored abolishing the Bush tax cuts for the highest earners. But the public would actually make the tax code even more progressive to bring the budget more in balance. The plurality raised taxes 5 percent on those with annual incomes of between $75,000 and $100,000. The majority raised them for earnings between $100,000 and a half million dollars. They raised it 10 percent for earnings that exceed $500,000.