US Fiscal Confidence at Lowest Point Since 2013

Jul 7, 2022

Contact: Jeremy Rosen
jrosen@pgpf.org

The June 2022 Fiscal Confidence Index, Modeled after the Consumer Confidence Index, is 39 (100 is Neutral)

NEW YORK (June 7, 2022) — Amid high inflation, rising interest rates and fears of recession, U.S. Fiscal Confidence is at a nine year low, according to the June Fiscal Confidence Index. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s monthly survey, modeled after the Consumer Confidence Index, is 39 (100 is neutral), the lowest measurement since October 2013 and a clear indication that voters are looking to their leaders to prioritize sustainable solutions for our fiscal and economic future.

With significant fiscal and economic uncertainty on the horizon, the Expectations sub-category of the Index hit an all-time low this month at 54, declining meaningfully from 60 last month. Voters have become even more likely to expect the national debt problem to get worse over the next few years (22% better/73% worse, from 26%/69% last month). Nearly four-in-five voters feel the national debt should be a top-three priority (79%), including 76% of Democrats, 73% of independents, and 88% of Republicans.

“With rising interest rates, skyrocketing inflation, geopolitical turmoil and concerns about economic growth, it’s no wonder that Americans’ confidence in our fiscal outlook is low,” said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peterson Foundation. “Over the next decade, we’ll spend $8.1 trillion on interest alone, which creates a vicious cycle of debt and deficits and diminishes our collective future. As interest costs eat up more and more of the federal budget, it will be even more difficult to find the funds to invest in national priorities and address critical challenges. Americans want leaders to create a sustainable budget and debt outlook so we can tackle our most important challenges and build a prosperous future.”

The Fiscal Confidence Index measures public opinion about the national debt by asking six questions in three key areas:

  • CONCERN: Level of concern and views about the direction of the national debt.
  • PRIORITY: How high a priority addressing the debt should be for elected leaders.
  • EXPECTATIONS: Expectations about whether the debt situation will get better or worse in the next few years.

The survey results from these three areas are weighted equally and averaged to produce the Fiscal Confidence Index value. The Fiscal Confidence Index, like the Consumer Confidence Index, is indexed on a scale of 0 to 200, with a neutral midpoint of 100. A reading above 100 indicates positive sentiment. A reading below 100 indicates negative sentiment.

Fiscal Confidence Index Key Data Points:

  • The June 2022 Fiscal Confidence Index value is 39. (The May value was 41. The April value was 42.) The Index has not been this low since it was 38 in October, 2013.
  • The current Fiscal Confidence Index score for CONCERN about the debt is 35, indicating deep concern about the debt. The score for debt as a PRIORITY that leaders must address is 29, indicating that Americans want elected leaders to make addressing long-term debt a high priority. The score for EXPECTATIONS about progress on the debt is 54, an all-time low. The Fiscal Confidence Index is the average of these three sub-category scores.
  • For a description of the complete methodology, see the Appendix below.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation commissioned this poll by the Global Strategy Group and North Star Opinion Research to survey public opinion on the national debt. The online poll included 1,000 registered voters nationwide, surveyed between June 21, 2022 and June 23, 2022. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. The poll examined voters’ opinions on the national debt, political leadership, and America’s fiscal and economic health.

Detailed poll results can be found online at: www.pgpf.org/FiscalConfidenceIndex.

About the Peter G. Peterson Foundation

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the nature and urgency of key fiscal challenges threatening America's future, and to accelerating action on them. To address these challenges successfully, we work to bring Americans together to find and implement sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results. To learn more, please visit www.pgpf.org.

APPENDIX: Fiscal Confidence Index Methodology and Questions

  • The Fiscal Confidence Index is released monthly by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
  • The Fiscal Confidence Index value is based on six questions in three categories.
  • As is done with the Consumer Confidence Index, the first step in calculating the Fiscal Confidence Index is determining the “Relative Value” for each question. This calculation is made by taking the positive response for each question and dividing it by the sum of the positive and negative responses. Each question was asked on a four-point scale, and answers were weighted according to intensity, with the strongest responses counting twice as much as the middle responses (“much” better or worse answers count twice as heavily as “somewhat” better or worse answers).
  • The scores for the Concern, Priority, and Expectations categories are determined by averaging the scores derived from the two questions in each category.
  • The Fiscal Confidence Index value is converted from the Relative Value to place it on a scale on which 100 indicates equal positive and negative sentiment, while values below 100 indicate negative sentiment and values above 100 indicate positive sentiment.
  • The questions are as follows:

 

CONCERN (35)
Thinking about our national debt over the last few years, would you say your level of concern has increased or decreased?
◊ Is that a lot or just a little?
June 2022 May 2022 April 2022
Increased a lot 54% 51% 54%
Increased a little 25% 29% 28%
Decreased a little 7% 5% 5%
Decreased a lot 3% 3% 3%
(No change) 8% 9% 7%
(Don't Know/Refused) 3% 3% 3%
INCREASED (NET) 79% 80% 82%
DECREASED (NET) 10% 8% 8%
 
When it comes to addressing our national debt, would you say things in the United States are heading in the right direction or do you think things are off on the wrong track?
◊ Do you feel that way strongly or just somewhat?
June 2022 May 2022 April 2022
Right direction — Strongly 10% 11% 12%
Right direction — Somewhat 19% 20% 22%
Wrong track — Somewhat 24% 26% 22%
Wrong track — Strongly 44% 39% 40%
(Neither/Mixed) 1% 1% 1%
(Don't Know/Refused) 3% 3% 3%
RIGHT DIRECTION (NET) 29% 31% 34%
WRONG TRACK (NET) 67% 65% 63%
PRIORITY (29)
Some people say that addressing the national debt should be among the president and Congress' top 3 priorities. Do you agree or disagree?
◊ Do you feel that way strongly or just somewhat?
June 2022 May 2022 April 2022
Strongly agree 51% 52% 52%
Somewhat agree 24% 25% 25%
Somewhat disagree 14% 14% 13%
Strongly disagree 6% 4% 5%
(Don't Know/Refused) 6% 5% 5%
AGREE (NET) 75% 77% 77%
DISAGREE (NET) 20% 18% 18%
 
And when it comes to our national debt, do you think it is an issue that the president and Congress should spend more time addressing or less time addressing?
◊ Would you say a lot (more or less) time or just a little?
June 2022 May 2022 April 2022
A lot more time 49% 48% 50%
A little more time 29% 33% 32%
A little less time 7% 7% 7%
A lot less time 6% 5% 5%
(The same amount of time) 4% 3% 2%
(Don't Know/Refused) 5% 4% 4%
MORE TIME (NET) 78% 81% 82%
LESS TIME (NET) 12% 12% 12%
EXPECTATIONS (54)
And thinking about our national debt over the next few years, do you expect the problem to get better or worse?
◊ Is that much (better or worse) or just somewhat (better or worse)?
June 2022 May 2022 April 2022
Much better 8% 8% 9%
Somewhat better 14% 18% 18%
Somewhat worse 32% 31% 27%
Much worse 41% 38% 39%
(No change) 2% 2% 2%
(Don't know/Refused) 4% 3% 3%
BETTER (NET) 22% 26% 28%
WORSE (NET) 73% 69% 67%
 
And when it comes to our national debt, are you optimistic or pessimistic that the United States will be able to make progress on our national debt over the next few years?
◊ Would you say you are very (optimistic or pessimistic) or just somewhat?
June 2022 May 2022 April 2022
Very optimistic 6% 7% 7%
Somewhat optimistic 30% 31% 31%
Somewhat pessimistic 33% 33% 32%
Very pessimistic 26% 24% 25%
(Neither/Mixed) 2% 3% 2%
(Don't Know/Refused) 4% 2% 3%
OPTIMISTIC (NET) 35% 38% 39%
PESSIMISTIC (NET) 59% 57% 57%

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