Should We Cut Social Programs to Lower Taxes? A Roundtable Chat in Florida’s Graying America

by Dante Chinni April 09, 2024

One of the big surprises in the American Communities Project’s 2023 survey of more than 5,000 people was agreement around several economic and policy issues.

In particular, this statement, “The U.S. government should cut social programs in order to lower taxes,” did not receive the support of 50% of the people in any of the ACP’s types — even those that lean solidly Republican.

So, to examine the attitudes behind this statement, the ACP visited Marion County, Florida, a Graying America community. In the survey, only 25% of those in Graying America agree with the statement of trading social program cuts for tax cuts, one of the lowest “agree” figures.

A large county in the center of the state, just north of the I-4 corridor, Marion is home to several large retirement communities, including part of The Villages. It is also reliably Republican in its voting habits. In the 2020 presidential election, it gave former President Donald Trump more than 62% of its vote.

The ACP assembled a group of six county residents — different races, ethnicities, and political leanings — to discuss the survey finding and to probe deeper on the feelings behind it. What we found was a thoughtful, engaged discussion that showed some common ground and a belief that social programs in America may need more investment, not less — with an eye toward long-term solutions.

The panel consisted of:

  • Karla Grimsley-Greenway, 57, a nonprofit CEO
  • Robert Haight, 66, a nonprofit executive with more than 40 years of experience
  • Mark Hayes, 79, a retired police chief from a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Leda Perez, 66, executive director of Ora Clubhouse, Inc.
  • Lina Piedrahita, 45, a real estate broker
  • Charlita R. Whitehead, 36, a fiber artist and project coordinator
Vol. 3 2020-2021

Deaths of Despair Across America

The American Communities Project is undertaking a 30-month study of Deaths of Despair in its 15 community types.

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