By
updated 3/10/2011 8:17:57 AM ET 2011-03-10T13:17:57

The colonists based the American Revolution on their cry against taxation without representation. Now, a new survey shows that Americans are very clear about how they want their tax dollars spent.

By a notable margin, education and health care were the top two spending priorities of Americans. And Americans are consistent in that: Those two categories have finished in the top two in each of the ten surveys since 1990, according to the General Social Survey (GSS), conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

The information comes as politicians in Washington wrangle over the budget and face a standoff over which areas of federal funding to cut. Interestingly, Americans don’t seem terribly upset about how much they are paying in taxes.

The top 10 highest priorities are:

1. Health care

2. Education

3. Assistance to the poor

4. Halting crime

5. Social Security

6. Environment

7. Dealing with drug addiction

8. Childcare

9. Drug rehabilitation

10. Law enforcement

The study involved interviews with 2,044 Americans asking them about spending on 22 items. Finishing lowest in priority, as it has in every survey since 1973, is foreign assistance. The study surveyed public preferences on 22 spending categories.

The findings have additional significance in that they are derived from the first GSS to be conducted since the 2008 economic meltdown. Despite the poor economy and despite the pinch of taxes for a majority, (in 2010, 53 percent said their federal taxes were too high, 46 percent about right, and 2 percent too low) Americans back more spending in about three-quarters of the areas and less spending only in the bottom quarter.

The GSS is supported by the National Science Foundation and it is the second most-referenced survey in America after the U.S. Census.

This article was provided by BusinessNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience.

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments