Washington (CNN) - Americans are divided on whether the new plan by House Republicans to cut spending goes too far, but the public definitely thinks the GOP budget unfairly favors some groups more than others, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that last Friday's budget agreement for the remainder of this fiscal year that averted a government shutdown did not boost President Barack Obama's reputation as a strong leader or good manager.
Fifty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say the Republican proposal for the 2012 budget goes too far in cutting spending, with 47 percent saying the cuts are not too deep. But by a 68 to 29 percent margin, Americans say the proposed GOP cuts unfairly favor some groups more than others. And seven in ten also believe the Republican budget will affect their families.
"It all adds up to a mild advantage for President Obama on budget issues," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Forty-eight percent of people we questioned say they prefer the president's approach to the budget over the GOP's approach, with 43 percent saying prefer Republican budget policies."
The poll's Wednesday morning release comes just a few hours before Obama is scheduled to give a speech outlining his new deficit reduction plan. The survey also comes out just one day before the full House begins to consider the GOP plan, which was put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
That proposal would radically restructure Medicare and Medicaid, reform the tax code and take an ax to the federal budget overall. Under the plan the government would eventually stop paying bills for senior citizens in the Medicare program. Instead, Medicare recipients would choose a plan from a list of private providers, which the federal government would subsidize. Individuals currently 55 or older would not be affected by the changes.
Some conservatives said it didn't go far enough. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the fiscal year 2012 Ryan blueprint "fails the test of balance, and balance is essential."
Ryan's plan puts the burden of balancing the budget on seniors, the middle class and the disabled while failing to ask for more from the richest Americans, Carney said.
In his speech Wednesday, the president is expected to weigh in with his plan for long-term debt-reduction plan, which could include a call for reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as defense cuts and an increase in taxes on the wealthy. Such a plan was absent from Obama's 2012 budget proposal in February.
As the House begins to debate the 2012 budget, it also votes Thursday on the last minute agreement Friday night to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.
The president's role in the tense negotiations doesn't appear to be giving him a political boost.
The survey indicates that 53 percent now say Obama's a strong and decisive leader, down four points since the start of the year and down by nearly 20 points since his first year in office. And 55 percent say that the president cannot manage the government effectively. The perception that Obama is compassionate is still one of his core characteristics: 57 percent say that he cares about average Americans. But most say that they disagree with Obama on important issues.
"The president's ace in the hole may be what the elder George Bush once called 'the vision thing'. Two-thirds say that President Obama has a vision for the country's future - so expect to hear more about 'winning the future' in the coming months," adds Holland.
One other advantage: Obama has kept his "base" happy, and the showdown over the shutdown probably had something to do with that. The president's approval rating among Democrats rose slightly in the wake of last Friday's budget deal, and more than eight in ten Democrats want to see the party re-nominate him next year. That's the highest amount of support from rank and file Democrats that Obama has scored to date.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted by telephone, with 824 people questioned. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report