Voters say it is more important to continue funding Social Security and Medicare at their current levels than to reduce the federal deficit. Yet more than half also think tax increases should not be considered during the current round of budget negotiations, according to a new Fox News poll.
Given those views, it's unsurprising that more voters disapprove (53 percent) than approve (39 percent) of President Obama's proposed budget, which includes both reductions to entitlement program benefits and tax hikes on upper-income Americans.
The split is not entirely along party lines. Nearly a third of Democrats give the president's budget plan a thumbs down (62 percent approve, 31 percent disapprove).
The sentiment is even stronger on the tax issue. Since taxes rose in January, a 55-percent majority of voters says tax increases should be off the table for the next budget deal. Most Republicans feel that way (68 percent), but so do many Democrats (42 percent).
At the same time there is a clear consensus that debt is a concern. Four in 10 voters describe the nation's debt situation as a crisis, and more than 8 in 10 see debt as a major problem (43 percent), if not a crisis (40 percent).
Even so, by 54-40 percent, voters prefer keeping Social Security and Medicare programs funded at their current levels over reducing the deficit.
On the other hand, there's some uncertainty about whether Social Security will be there for future retirees. Among voters under age 65, opinions are almost evenly divided: 46 percent think there will be enough money to pay their full benefits, while 50 percent think it's unlikely.
Twelve percent think it is "very" likely there will be enough money for full benefits.
Meanwhile, the notion of means-testing benefits as a cost-cutting measure is a no-go. Fifty-nine percent of voters say everyone who paid Social Security taxes should receive an equal amount when they retire. Just over a third -- 36 percent -- would rather see the benefit based on financial need.
Poll Pourri ...
Is the nation's job situation is getting better or worse? Take your pick: 42 percent are optimistic, while 44 percent see darker clouds. Either way, just over half -- 51 percent -- disapprove of how Obama is handling job creation (43 percent approve).
Partisanship plays a big role in those views: 71 percent of Democrats approve of Obama's record on job creation, while 81 percent of Republicans disapprove. And 60 percent of Democrats think the situation is getting better, while 63 percent of Republicans say it's getting worse.
Overall, a 60-percent majority is dissatisfied with conditions in the U.S. By comparison, 79 percent were dissatisfied in the days before Obama took office in January 2009.
Some 40 percent of voters are currently satisfied with the way things are going in the country, up slightly from 37 percent in January. Democrats (62 percent), non-whites (63 percent) and voters under age 35 (51 percent) are among those most likely to feel pleased.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,009 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 20 to April 22. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.