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Responsible government would be nice

While President Obama's proposal -- dead on arrival in an election year -- to raise taxes on those making at least $1 million a year is an agreeable idea with many Americans, most still prefer that the federal budget get balanced through spending cuts.

At least that's the indication from a national survey by The Associated Press and GfK shows that was reported this week.

According to the survey, just under two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents agreed with Obama's plan that would require those making at least $1 million to pay at least the equivalent of 30 percent of their income in federal taxes. Just over a quarter (26 percent) disagreed with the idea. AP reported that a breakdown of those numbers showed that Obama's plan was supported by two-thirds of independents and 40 percent of Republicans surveyed. Democrats, not surprisingly, overwhelmingly endorsed the plan, with 90 percent in favor of it. Half of those who identified themselves as conservatives supported it as well.

But perhaps even more telling were the responses to how to balance the federal budget, which is at the bottom of all this. Obama's latest budget -- one for Fiscal Year 2013 that, like its three predecessors, won't get enacted -- is also the fourth straight anticipating a deficit of $1 trillion or more.

The way the majority of Americans want that gap (one that results in 40 cents of every government dollar spent coming from creditors) narrowed is through austerity measures. Basically, most Americans want the federal government to do like most of us do -- live within its means.

Asked how they want the budget balanced, 56 percent said it should be through reductions in government spending, compared to less than one-third -- 31 percent -- who think hiking taxes is the way to go.

Breaking it down, three out of four Republicans preferred cutting spending to raising taxes, compared to nearly two out of five Democrats -- 38 percent. Just under half of Democrats -- 49 percent -- endorsed raising taxes.

But the part of the survey that may be most telling in this election year is where independents stand on that issue, and the majority of those who both parties will be wooing heavily this year are behind the cut-government approach.

Failing to get America's deficit spending under control will have negative repercussions at some point, quite possibly sooner than any of us want to believe. Look at what Greece is going through and how delicate the economy situation is throughout the Eurozone. Greece is losing a great deal of its sovereignty because of its unrestrained spending. Americans want to believe that nothing like that could happen here, but thoughts of U.S. immunity from what the rest of the world faces should have disappeared with the Great Recession.

The gist is Americans want everyone to pay their fair share, but first they want the federal government to be a good steward with the tax money it is already taking. So far, our lawmakers and president show no signs of being inclined to do that.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board