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Magazine / Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll: What Will a Debt-Ceiling Agreement Contain?

Components of a debt-ceiling deal.

Controversial: Paul Ryan(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

June 9, 2011

Do you think that Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal or something very similar to it will be part of the debt-ceiling agreement?

Democrats (30 votes)

Yes: 0%
No: 97%
Don’t know (volunteered): 3%



“Mr. Ryan’s plan to end Medicare is a complete nonstarter. It goes against everything the Democratic Party stands for.”

“It is poison.”

“I don’t see how they could, in light of the heat they have taken recently on this.”

“Not unless the Democratic Party completely disappears in the next three months.”

“Democrats can’t attack Medicare, but Republicans can embrace the savings of ‘Obamacare.’ ”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Any Democrat who agrees to this will be tarred and feathered.”

“If Democrats agree to end Medicare—and that is what Ryan does—then we should just give up.”

“Paul Ryan gave us the Republican gift to end Medicare. Democrats will not re-gift that one.”

Don’t know

“Only if Republicans decide they want to default on America’s debt.”


Do you think that Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal or something very similar to it will be part of the debt-ceiling agreement?

Republicans (31 votes)

Yes: 39%
No: 58%
Don’t know (volunteered): 3%


“Medicare has to be part of the solution, and Ryan’s proposal is a good starting place.”

“The president knows the GOP Medicare plan is reasonable. That’s why he hit ‘redo’ and submitted a second attempt at a budget—still without a Medicare plan, though.”

“It’s the only plan that’s been put out there, and someday Democrats will recover from their amnesia and realize they proposed it first!”

“The huge costs of Medicare have significantly aided in the U.S. reaching the debt ceiling. To not address Medicare will only make our debt worse.”

“Some type of Medicare reform must be part of any deal; otherwise, you simply can’t make the numbers work that would be acceptable to the House Republicans.”

“Medicare reform will be part of any emerging agreement. Doing nothing will lead to bankruptcy and benefit cuts.”


“It’s difficult to see how Democrats could support a Medicare reform plan they’ve spent months ripping.”

“The Democrats won’t bargain away their No. 1 campaign issue, especially with all indications pointing to a stagnant economic recovery.”

“Our vulnerable members are already pushing back. The only one who can explain the plan is Paul Ryan.”

“The Democrats will never give up this issue ahead of the ’12 elections, and the Ryan plan will never be enacted while Barack Obama is president.”

“But it should. It’s an honest, proven solution, but Democrats are too far out on their demonization limb to allow it.”

Don’t know

“The president and his Democrat friends in Congress haven’t produced a plan of any kind to address Medicare, spending, or jobs. House Republicans have done all of the above. We need more people asking them about their ideas, not what we will or won’t negotiate on in the debt limit or elsewhere. Where are their plans? What is Harry Reid doing? What is the president’s team doing?”


Do you think a constitutional amendment to balance the budget will be part of the debt-ceiling agreement?

Democrats (30 votes)

Yes: 3%
No: 90%
Possibly (volunteered): 7%


“Assuming the time frame for balance would be virtually immediate, the markets would react horrendously at the first adoption of such a proposal.”

“A law requiring a balanced budget seems more realistic than an amendment to the Constitution.”

“It would shortchange states, and the [Pentagon] would be the biggest loser.”

“Congress is already vested with the power to lay and collect taxes and pay debts. Seeking additional constitutional authority would be unduly burdensome and wholly unnecessary, and is an abdication of Congress’s primary responsibility to the American public.”

“Unless Republicans decide they want to default on the nation’s debt.”

“But there could well be language that requires specific deficit reduction and/or spending cuts.”


“But the wording will be critical.”


Do you think a constitutional amendment to balance the budget will be part of the debt-ceiling agreement?

Republicans (31 votes)

Yes: 39%
No: 58%
Don’t know (volunteered): 3%


“In some form, but probably not exactly what we’d want.”


“Our goal is cutting spending now and in the immediate future. It could be decades before a balanced-budget amendment is passed by the required number of states.”

“It is too slow and too uncertain a tool to impose discipline on Congress’s spending behavior.”

“We can’t put our hopes in a constitutional amendment. It’s a great idea, but we’ve got to have cuts now and can’t wait through the amendment process.”

“Democrats will not accept a straitjacket on future spending, nor will Republicans accept a trigger for future taxes. There are no silver bullets that will save us from tough decisions every year. That is the nature of self-government.”

“While it is a good idea, I think spending caps and cuts are more likely than a balanced-budget amendment.”

“We need to focus on trillions [of dollars] of real cuts today. Although I support systemic reforms, their price from the Senate and White House would limit our ability to get cuts today.”

“I don’t think there’s even consensus among the Republicans for that.”


Democratic Congressional Insiders Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Christopher A. Coons, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester, Tom Udall, Mark Warner; Reps. Jason Altmire, Robert Andrews, Tammy Baldwin, Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, James Clyburn, Gerry Connolly , Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Steve Israel, Marcy Kaptur, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Gary Peters, Collin Peterson, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Allyson Schwartz, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, Pete Stark, Bennie Thompson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, and Frederica Wilson.

GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Jeff Denham, Charlie Dent, David Dreier, Sean Duffy, Jo Ann Emerson, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy, Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Nan Hayworth, Darrell Issa, Mike Kelly, Peter King, Jack Kingston, Adam Kinzinger, John Kline, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Dave Reichert, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Phil Roe, Paul Ryan, Aaron Schock, Pete Sessions, Adrian Smith, Steve Stivers, Lee Terry, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, Daniel Webster, and Joe Wilson.


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