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Survey shows preference for bigger U.S. government

For the first time in eight years, more Americans say they would rather have bigger government than small government.

Forty-eight percent of Americans say they prefer a bigger government and more government-provided services, while 45 percent prefer smaller government and fewer services, according to a national survey from the Pew Research Center.

Three quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (74 percent) prefer small government while 65 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents prefer bigger government. The ideological gap has not been this large since October 2008, just prior to the election of former President Barack Obama.

The survey also shows increased public support for government spending within 14 programs, which is up from 2013 when more people were concerned about a federal budget deficit. A few of these programs include education, infrastructure spending, Medicare and health care, scientific research and military defense. The majority of Americans now say they would rather maintain or increase spending across the 14 program areas included in the survey.

Support for increased or maintained funding was most popular with veteran benefits, with only 3 percent of respondents saying they would decrease funding in this area. Support for increased spending was least popular with regard to unemployment benefits and international assistance to those in need.

The preference for big government has increased by 7 points since September, when 50 percent of those surveyed said they prefered limited government and fewer public services.

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