Poll: Young Latinos favor cuts in taxes and federal spending

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New polling figures show that Hispanics age 18–29 prefer spending cuts to more taxes as a primary solution to solving the federal debt crisis. Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit organization that educates, engages and mobilizes young people in the political process, released the figures Monday.

In the April the polling Company/WomenTrend poll, Hispanic young adults said they prefer “reducing federal spending” by 69 percent, compared with 27 percent who would rather “raise taxes on individuals” in order to balance the budget, a nearly three-to-one ratio.

The majority of young Hispanics polled, 56 percent, also agreed with the statement that “if taxes on business profits were reduced, companies would be more likely to hire.”

“Young Americans in every community across the nation have been negatively impacted by unemployment and the lack of opportunity, especially within the Hispanic community,” said Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity and a former Chief of Staff of the United States Department of Labor. “They know the solution to recovery is not more federal spending, taxes and interference with those who have the courage and resources to create jobs.”

But not all Latinos want to reduce government spending, especially if it means cutting social programs that benefit them.

“Historically, Latinos have been very supportive of government spending in particular areas such as education, health care and jobs,” said Eric Rodriguez, vice president of office research, advocacy and legislation at The National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. “What you’ll find is that when you poll Latinos more broadly in oversamples, they ask if you would prefer to have more health care for your children, even if you had to pay more taxes, and they agree.”

Rodriguez said the Latino community is intensely interested in supporting small businesses, but he added that he wasn’t sure Latinos associate lower taxes with thriving businesses. (Conservatives may be able to harness youth disillusionment in 2012)

“I have yet to see taxes really rise to the surface or even close to the top five in issues that rate the most important to Latinos of any age,” Rodriguez said.

But Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, said lower taxes are directly associated with the success of small businesses, and Hispanics know that.

“I think its intuitive for a lot Hispanics who are coming here to work and to pursue the American dream that they see that the power to tax is the power to destroy, and that money is better spent out of their own pocket or out of their own business, than the government taking it from them, “ Lopez said.

Lopez said this issue is especially important to Hispanic Americans because they start small businesses at three times the rate of any other demographic group. He said small businesses are the engine to economic growth and can’t be ignored in the budget debate.

“Businesses have a limited amount of money, so money that goes to taxes is less money that‘s going to invest in the business and hiring and creating jobs,” Lopez said. “It’s this false choice — again as we see in the tax debate — either we raise taxes or increase the deficit, but the way to increase revenue is economic growth.”

Rodriguez warned that it’s too early to see whether young Hispanics favor reducing federal spending over tax increases, because it is not yet known what will be cut and who will be most affected.

“I think it’s fair to say that Latinos do care and are paying attention to these discussions and the debate over the debt ceiling and the deficit, and it does matter,” Rodriguez said. “Once we see some of the details about the specific cuts that are going to be needed, then we will know better where public sentiment among Latinos really is.”