This paper examines the responses to national opinion surveys taken between 1935 and 1976 on questions related to the federal government's role in providing social welfare programs and recent survey findings on defense spending. The paper's major findings are that: 1) in general, the public supports the basic concept of providing aid to the needy through the government but shows less consistent support when specific spending proposals are mentioned: and 2) as theshareof the federal budget allocated for defense spending has been decreasing, polls have shown an increasing proportion of the public expressing support for greater delcense spending. The paper concludes with observations on the balance between the public's attitudes toward spending for social welfare programs and spending for the military. The central conclusion is that it appears that the American public wants "guns" and "butter", and are likely to want some sort of balance between the two.