Something old and something new characterize the concerns residents have about national issues, as measured by an annual survey of constituents by U.S. Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-6th.
The federalbudget deficit again topped the list of concerns on constituents' minds, said Beau Wright, a Byron spokesman.
The survey also generates comments on more recent issues, and with the rise of the savings and loan debacle during the past year, residents conveyed reluctance about allowing banks to enter the securities and insurance businesses.
Each spring, Byron, a Frederick resident, includes a survey in her quarterly newsletter, which is mailed tothe 252,000 residents who live in the Sixth District. About 7,000 responses came in this year and were compiled for Byron by the U.S. House Informational Services Department.
"We don't purport to be specialists in terms of scientific polling," Wright said of the 10-question survey. "It's more of an informal method of trying to get a bettersense of what's on the minds of the people in the district."
The results were included in the summer edition of Byron's newsletter to residents of the Sixth District, which is made up of Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties, and parts of Howard and Montgomery counties.
Of the respondents, about 45 percent said the federal deficit was the greatest problem facing the country. Results were broken down by county, and Carroll respondents also viewed the deficit as the most pressing issue, with 55 percent putting it at the top of the list.
Wright said it was not known how many Carroll residents returned surveys.
The following priorities for Carroll respondents were drugs and crime (18.4 percent), health care (10.4 percent), the recession (8 percent), education (4.6 percent), and the environment (3.4 percent).
District-wide, concern over the deficit was followed by drugs and crime (15.28 percent), health care (13.79 percent), the nation's economic woes (11.69 percent), education (8.79 percent) and the environment (5.2 percent).
When asked how best to deal with the deficit, 47.7 percent of Carroll respondents suggested a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, while 5.7 percent called for tax increases alone.
On the issue of banking-reform laws, 63.6 percent of Carroll respondents did not think banks should be allowed to enter the securities and insurance industries, while 14.8 percent did not see a problem.
One question asked, "Do you favor a continued reduction in the defense budget equivalent to last year's $17 billion reduction?" Carroll respondents were equally divided, with 46.1 percent answering "yes," and the identical amount answering "no," while7.8 percent were undecided.
When asked about their view on U.S. health care, 67.9 percent of county respondents said the system "needsfundamental changes," while 27.4 percent said they were "generally pleased." In addition to the completed survey, Byron inevitably receives comments and letters, Wright said.
"They absolutely run the gamut from 'Thank you for asking us our opinions,' to 'This is totally ridiculous waste of time and money,' " he said. "We get a litany of compliments and a litany of complaints."