In recent years, government in the U.S. has never been bigger, in terms of both spending and its power over individuals and the economy. Some have begun to openly wonder: Is the U.S. evolving into a socialist-style economy? And is that what Americans want? The latest I&I/TIPP Poll has answers.
Over the last three years, due to the COVID pandemic, government spending at all levels averaged just over 44% of GDP, the highest since World War II, when much of the economy was essentially socialized in order to boost war spending.
Today, a majority of Americans agree that the sudden, rapid growth from COVID-related spending and burgeoning top-down control over the domestic economy to address climate change have put U.S. on a path toward socialism.
This comes out of the latest I&I/TIPP Poll of 1,356 Americans across the country, taken online from Jan. 4-6. In it, we asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following simple statement: “The U.S. is evolving into a big government socialist state.”
The shocking answer: By 51% to 31%, Americans agreed the U.S. is moving toward socialism. Among the remainder, 18% said they were “unsure.” The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.
Further broken down, of those who agreed, 20% said they did so “strongly,” while 31% said they agreed “somewhat.” For those who disagreed, just 15% disagreed strongly, while 16% said they “somewhat” disagreed.
While usually such politically sensitive questions show wide differences among the different political affiliations, that’s not exactly the case here.
A plurality of Democrats (42% “agreed,” 40% “disagreed”) believed with the majority of Republicans (68% to 18%) that America was moving toward socialism. Independents also agreed, 49% to 32%.
We asked two other related questions, one about spending, the other about direct government control of key sectors of the economy. Poll participants were to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with a statement: “I am willing to pay higher taxes to support more social programs.”
Again, the gap was large. Among those answering, 57% said they weren’t willing to pay higher taxes for more social programs, while just 34% said they were.
This time, however, politics mattered. For Democrats, 52% said they’d willingly pay higher taxes for more social spending, while 39% said they wouldn’t.
Republicans differed starkly, with only 16% saying they’d pay more in taxes for higher social spending, while a hefty 78% said they wouldn’t. Self-described independents were closer to Republicans, with 27% supporting higher social spending, versus 62% who didn’t.
A third, and final, question was asked: Did respondents agree or disagree that “the government should control or own key industries such as health care and energy.”
Here, the margin was narrower, with 39% of all respondents saying they would support such a move, while 46% said they would not. “Not sure” made up 14% of the responses.
Once more, the political split was wide, with 55% of Democrats supporting vs. 30% opposing, compared to 26% of GOP followers supporting the takeover of major industries, compared to 64% opposing it. Independents expressed 32% support, vs. 53% opposition.
What to make of all these data?
For one, even as government’s size, tax-take and power over the private economy have expanded, Democrats mostly don’t see America moving toward socialism. Americans of other political persuasions mostly do.
For another, Democrats are far more likely to support both higher taxes for social spending and the takeover of key industries. Once again, Republicans and independents aren’t.
In short, while Democrats are less likely to see the U.S. evolving into a socialist state, they support higher taxes for “social programs” and the takeover of major parts of the economy, both hallmarks of socialist economics.
This is likely to form the basis of future bitter policy disputes between the White House and the major parties in Congress.
Consider just the two industries mentioned in the I&I/TIPP poll: health care and energy. Together, they account for roughly 25% of all U.S. GDP. A government takeover would essentially push total state and federal government control to well over half of the entire economy.
President Bill Clinton in 1996 pledged, “the era of big government is over.” But is big government now making a comeback? To many, it sure feels that way, as our poll shows.
A few recent examples illustrate the trend:
- The Biden administration’s abandoned plan to “ban” gas stoves is the latest in a series of moves to re-regulate the U.S. economy, using the supposed negative future impacts of “climate change” as grounds for action.
- At the state level, just this month a ban on some 200,000 buses, big-rig trucks and tractor-trailers took effect in California. This will have a far-reaching impact on the nation’s economy, as the movement of millions of goods that once passed freely through California’s largest-in-the-country ports will slow further. Prices will rise, and so will shortages.
- Across the country, state governments are mandating costly solar and wind power projects to replace more reliable and cheaper coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. For most Americans, the future will be filled with electricity shortages and brownouts.
Americans, as I&I/TIPP Poll data show, are less than keen on paying taxes to fund more social programs. And yet, with little fanfare, some $219 billion in new taxes went into effect on Jan.1, before the new Congress could take over.
Such moves are sure to set off yet another stormy debate in Congress (not to mention among the public), over the degree of government control over Americans’ lives.
I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.
Maybe what polled Democrats were thinking was: This is not socialism, because we have advanced or evolved beyond mere socialism and now embrace a totalitarian suppression of opposition more akin to the full-fledged communism espoused by Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, etc. Socialism was merely the Democrat party’s benign-sounding vehicle to advance to a more tyrannical form of government (and absolute power) known as communism. Hence, the weaponized DOJ/FBI and persecution and jailing of political enemies is also embraced by Democrats and certain GOP bedfellows.
Sense of entitlement up, IQ’s and work ethic down, wealth syphoned to the 1 and .1%, we’re are headed this way.
Amazing to see how soon some people have forgotten the Cold War…
If the Marxist-Democrats had their way, the USA would already be a Totalitarian Police State. One Party rule over the “masses” and an Iron Rod in hands of the Rulers! Sadly, there is a “plantation” mentality among many Americans. The demand for free government money, free housing and free healthcare! Of course most Americans want free Wifi so they can “game” all day long. Nobody wants to work anymore. However, if the Marxist-Democrats are ever able to implement their Totalitarian Utopia, they will force all of those lazy “gamers” into the files to grow food for the Elites! Do you think that the Biden’s, 0bama’s, Clinton’s, Kerry’s, Gates’, Kennedy’s et al, are going to do without their Porterhouse steaks and their fine wines and cognacs? In every Totalitarian regime that ever existed, there were two classes of people. The Elites…the Ruling Class…and the rest of the gaggle of society! But first…they gotta get the guns! Once they ban guns….lookout!
Did you guys ask whether or not it was a good idea? Obviously Republicans think we are heading towards socialism and are angry about it. (We are not – we are currently in a worsening oligarchy with monopolist spendthrifts running the government).
An excellent question and comment.
Socialism is the door mat…before we open the door to Communism!
Headed toward socialism? I doubt it. What we have under the globalist hegemony controlling the “Democratic” Party, their Ministry of Propaganda, the schools, public sector unions, big “charitable” foundations, and most of the financial and corporate business sectors of our economy, is pure, textbook Fascism: authoritarian control of a subject populace exploited by a coalition of powerful economic and government interests for the sake of power and profit.
I’d be interested to see what percentage of the people who responded to this poll could give an accurate definition of Socialism. Many on the right apparently seem to think it means “anything the government does”.
America has some socialists programs (we need socialized medicine enacted as well) but by and large we remain a capitalist Republic whose leaders are elected by the populace. This recipe has made us the leading culture in the world so I don’t know what all this conjecture about oligarchy and tyranny come from. We should be appreciative of our advantages.
As Benjamin Franklin is to have said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
The horse got out of the barn a century ago, jumped the paddock fence for a New deal, found greener pastures in a Great Society, and has fundamentally transformed itself from a wooden horse to one of blood and iron.
Oh Katie! Bar the door.
We’re already there. Totalitarianism, marxism, communism is where we are headed.
The recent poll showing only 16% of Gen-whatever has a positive view of America does not bode well for our future as a country of freedom and liberty.