Poll: Majority Sides With GOP on Debt-Ceiling Hike

Sixty-one percent say the debt ceiling should be leveraged in exchange for spending cuts, even if that puts the country at risk of default.

Boehner: Speaking at Economic Club.
National Journal
Patrick Reis
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Patrick Reis
Sept. 26, 2013, 7:25 a.m.

More than six in 10 Amer­ic­ans say Con­gress should re­quire spend­ing cuts be­fore rais­ing the debt ceil­ing, even if that puts the na­tion at risk of de­fault, ac­cord­ing to a Bloomberg poll re­leased Thursday.

Pres­id­ent Obama and con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats are de­mand­ing a debt-ceil­ing in­crease with no con­di­tions, with the pres­id­ent re­peatedly ad­mon­ish­ing Con­gress to “pay the bills that they’ve already racked up.” The busi­ness com­munity — wary of the eco­nom­ic con­sequences of de­fault — is call­ing on Con­gress to raise the lim­it as well.

But those ar­gu­ments ap­pear to have failed to win over a ma­jor­ity of the pub­lic thus far, with only 28 per­cent of re­spond­ents telling Bloomberg they fa­vor an un­con­di­tion­al in­crease. El­ev­en per­cent said they were un­sure.

Rais­ing the debt ceil­ing does not au­thor­ize any new con­gres­sion­al spend­ing. In­stead, it au­thor­izes the Treas­ury De­part­ment to bor­row more to pay the coun­try’s ex­ist­ing ob­lig­a­tions.

By with­hold­ing an in­crease, however, Re­pub­lic­ans see a win­dow to force spend­ing cuts, a man­euver they suc­cess­fully em­ployed in 2011, when they agreed to raise the debt ceil­ing only after Demo­crats agreed to put in place a spend­ing-re­duc­tion plan that even­tu­ally pro­duced the cur­rent across-the-board dis­cre­tion­ary spend­ing cuts known as the se­quester.

The non­par­tis­an Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice says the de­fi­cit is fall­ing sharply when meas­ured as a per­cent­age of the coun­try’s total eco­nom­ic out­put, but the ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans see it dif­fer­ently. Fifty-nine per­cent of poll re­spond­ents said the de­fi­cit is grow­ing, 26 per­cent said it was hold­ing steady, and only 10 per­cent said it is get­ting smal­ler.

Bloomberg’s poll was done via in­ter­views of 1,000 U.S. adults con­duc­ted between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23.

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