I feel like when the government is in a crisis, they have to watch their budget and cut back on resources, said Dsouza, who lives in the east Texas city of Frankston. When we have massive debt, the government cant help people. They are in crisis and have to trim what they dont need to pay for what they do need.
Near Dallas, Peggy Heath, 57, worries that the mounting debt will force cuts in Social Security before she and her husband reach retirement age.
It makes me sick. Its so much money I dont know how it could possibly be repaid, said Heath. My husband thinks hell have to work for the rest of his life. Im not so sure hes wrong.
While Medicare and Social Security are two of the biggest parts of the budget, theyre largely off limits politically. Just 19 percent of voters think the country spends too much on Medicare; just 13 percent say that about Social Security.
People can barely get by on what they get as it is, said Peggy Anderson, 59, a Payne Springs, Texas, woman who has multiple sclerosis and is unable to work. They need to quit borrowing from Social Security.
Some voters blame the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for running up the national tab.
The debt would not be so high if we would quit going off on these unnecessary wars, said Cynthia Carter, 64, a retired teacher from Irmo, S.C.
But there is no broad appetite for cutting the military budget.
Just one in three voters thinks the country spends too much on defense, according to the McClatchy-Marist poll. Even among Democrats, 40 percent believe the Pentagon spends too much, but 55 percent believe it spends the right amount or too little.
When it comes to raising taxes, the poll suggests some support for increasing taxes for big business and Wall Street.
But voters split over whether theyd pay more themselves.
By golly, listen, Id want them spent the right way, said Mildred Cooke, a retired teacher in Columbia, Mo. I wouldnt want them handed out for somebody to spend the wrong way.
The poll finds Cooke in a slim majority, with 51 percent willing to pay more in taxes, under the condition that those making more than $250,000 also pay more in taxes. Among Democrats, 57 percent were willing to pay more. Republicans were opposed, with 53 percent unwilling to pay more.
Good heavens, if they cant spend wisely the money they have, why would I expect theyd do a good job with more money? asked Sandra Bachmann, 47, a database manager from Cary, N.C., who identified herself as an independent. Its throwing money at a problem."