Poll: Debt ceiling blame game
July 18th, 2011
10:18 AM ET
3 years ago

Poll: Debt ceiling blame game

Washington (CNN) – A plurality of Americans disapprove of how President Barack Obama is handling debt ceiling negotiations, but Congress fares much worse, according to a new national survey.

A CBS News Poll released Monday morning indicates that 48 percent of the public gives the president a thumbs down on how he's handling talks with federal lawmakers on raising the nation's debt limit, with 43 percent saying they approve of how Obama's handling negotiations.

But only 31 percent of people questioned say they approve of how Democrats in Congress are dealing with the talks, with 58 percent saying they disapprove. And by a 71 to 21 percent margin, the public disapproves of how Republicans in Congress are handling the negotiations.

According to a release from CBS News, 51 percent of Republicans give a thumbs down to how members of their own party are handling the talks, with far fewer Democrats questioned disapproving of how congressional Democrats (32 percent) or Obama (22 percent) are dealing with the negotiations.

The poll's release comes as the president and congressional leaders continue to try and find common ground on any deal to raise the debt ceiling. While discussions continued over the weekend after the last full negotiating session Thursday, no significant progress has occurred and the chances for a comprehensive deficit deal sought by Obama in coming weeks appear remote.

Without a major deal, Congress would have to focus instead on a smaller agreement to raise the debt ceiling or face the unprecedented situation in 16 days of the government not having enough money to pay all its bills. The debt ceiling has reached its $14.3 trillion legally permitted maximum.

The Obama administration has warned that not raising the debt ceiling could have dangerous consequences for the economy and that the government might not be able to make Social Security payments to Americans. The survey indicates that some are skeptical, with 36 percent saying the White House is making things sound worse than they would be if the debt ceiling is not raised. But four in ten say the administration is accurately describing the impact of not raising the debt ceiling, with 14 percent saying the White House is making things sound better than they would be. There's an expected partisan divide, with independent voters divided on the question.

According to the survey, two-thirds of Americans think there probably will be an agreement on the debt ceiling before the August 2 deadline.

The CBS News Poll was conducted July 15-17, with 810 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Polls
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    How many times have we heard politicians argue that "polls don't matter."

    I can understand how Republicans may initially misread the tea leaves following the 2010 elections. But, I cannot understand how or why they continue to double down on unpopular policies after the results of so many special elections so far this year. The public has demonstrated voters' remorse from coast to coast. And still, the Republicans believe as they always have that the problem is one of messaging and not the message. That Americans simply need to be properly told what to think. What Republicans do not understand is that Americans *are* listening to their message, and are seeing it for what it really is.

    July 18, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. Four and The Door

    This is another case where the wildly successful Washington Democratic Spin Doctors have been able to direct such a large majority of American opinions away from the real and more perilous problem. So many people are worried about what happens if the debt ceiling is not raised, they seem to completely ignore the real monster. The level of debt itself.

    People can wrap their minds around a delayed $400 Social Security check much easier than they can understand what $15,000,000,000,000 worth of American debt is all about. It is all about a future looking very bleak if you are unfortunate enough to be born in America today. Because this debt you are inheriting is only going up.

    July 18, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. cindy

    No one has asked me to answer any poll and believe me there are more of us out there that want President Obama to know we are with him and trust him to do the right thing by America. Not the whims of one man speaking for corporations and greed.

    July 18, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. sonny chapman

    But Mitch McConnel & John Boehner keep saying, "The AMERICAN PEOPLE don't want taxes raised on the wealthy or tax loopholes closed for big corps." Maybe they should look behind them & check out the size of the parade they think they're leading. OR, maybe they're hearing the voices in the Country Clubs & Board of Directors rooms that they hang out at. OR maybe they suffer from the Charles Kane/Rupert Murdoch syndrome–THE PEOPLE WILL THINK WHAT I TELL THEM TO THINK !!!!

    July 18, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Four and The Door wrote:
    This is another case where the wildly successful Washington Democratic Spin Doctors have been able to direct such a large majority of American opinions away from the real and more perilous problem.
    -------------
    Actually, the Republican Spin Machine and Republican legsislative actions did more in influence the American public than any spin Democrats could have invented. The Republican strategists just keep inventing gifts that for Democrats that keep on paying.

    July 18, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Concerned Voter

    Why is it everyone is blaming republicans. If you spent more money then you made there would be no one to pay your debt for you. 50% of the people complaining do not even pay any taxes currently. This country needs a flat tax. Then everyone would be paying into the government to support the programs like medicare and social security. To many around the country want to keep receiving and not put any money in. This is simple math..if you earn a dollar and spend two you are wrong. A balanced budget is a must! How much stimulus money has gone out? How many of you have seen any change as promised in the election? Many of us are doing worse now. I can fix the economy eay..STOp giving all this foreign aide, bring it back to the country and put our kids into college, to develop and earn the high paying jobs back. Stop giving tax breaks to corporations when they leave the country and take jobs with them. Look at the unions? Are they helping or hurting us? Many unions hold people with High School diplomas..seriously should a graduate of high school earn 17$ an hour to flip burgers? People we have lost the edge in manuufacturing and become a nation of services people. You can't keep taxing the rich..the lower and middle class need to pay into taxes.

    July 18, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. American

    Political spin is a two-way street, such as when Boehner says that people do not want to raised taxes. That's simply a lie. The majority of Americans (80%) support incremental revenue increases from the wealthiest to help share the sacrafices for our fiscal sanity.

    The GOP should have taken President Obama's plan to cut $4 Trillion. If legislators now fail to prevent our nation from default, many Americans will blame Boehner/Cantor's uncompromising nonsense in the House and McConnell's dereliction of duty in the Senate.

    July 18, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. GI Joe

    Until we pay of the unfunded wars ($4.4 Trillion) and the unfunded tax cuts (on-going), it's only going to get worse. What kind of nut-job would commit to two wars with NO FUNDING?

    July 18, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Concerned Voter

    One last comment: Enough with the wars, let those people deal with their own country. Put the $4.4 trillion inot tax credits for electric cars, solar power and say goodbye to Oil! We have the technology to build space stations, put a man on the moon or send a rover to mars. But big oil and lobyists keep us hostage. No politics required...only spend what you take in in revenue. Simple business math.

    July 18, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Anonymous

    I am confused as to why the debt ceiling was raised almost without hesitation during the Bush Administration? Why all this fuss with Obama? Seems all a game anymore in Washington causing harm to us Americans! Get to work people!

    July 18, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. ztank

    Concerned Voter: Stop with the 50% LIE. You absolutely have to place in front of the 50% that you are refering to "Federal Income Tax". Otherwise its a complete and utter lie. If you don't think its a LIE then you are woefully misinformed.

    The NET tax rate as a percentage of income for someone working at McDonalds level salary is actually HIGHER than the NET tax rate that millionaires pay. You seem to have bought wholeheartedly into the great fiscal lie of the Tea Party...and I find that sad.

    July 18, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    Eric Cantor and the just say NO to compromise Tea Party politicians of the GOP will receive the majority of the blame. Voters will punish the GOP/Tea Party on election day.

    July 18, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Concerned Voter wrote:
    Why is it everyone is blaming republicans. If you spent more money then you made there would be no one to pay your debt for you. 50% of the people complaining do not even pay any taxes currently. People we have lost the edge in manuufacturing and become a nation of services people.
    --------------
    People blame Republicans because a Republican President and Republican Congress took us from a surplus to a deficit within one year, and continued to grow their deficits. As far as manufacturing goes, we have not lost any sort of edge. Conservative policies enacted during GWB's first term made it attractive for corporations to move manufacturing out of the country.

    If you manufacture here, then you will wind up paying taxes of some sort on the goods. The same thing happens overseas with one significant difference. US corporations get to deduct those foreign taxes they pay out in full from their US tax liabilites. Maybe that's why 43% of corporations pay zero taxes. Maybe that's where our manufacturing jobs went, never to return under present conditions.

    July 18, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Ryan

    I guess Four and The Door is ok with people who owe him money not paying him when they have the ability to.

    This is an artificial limit and has nothing to do with Future Spending. The debt reflects what we have already spent and owe money on–Not our ability to spend more in the future.

    I guess Four and The Door is for the US not paying our obligations when we have the money too. This must be how he operates in his life, but this is not how the US does things! We pay our debts.

    July 18, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Al-NY,NY

    The GOP is toast on this one. Obama has publically offered cuts in spending, against his own parties' wishes. The GOP has offered NOTHING except cut cut and cut. Their pathological addiction to taxes will be their downfall. Of course since they pandered to the T-B party and it's fanatical ideology, they get what they deserve

    July 18, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    American wrote:

    Political spin is a two-way street, such as when Boehner says that people do not want to raised taxes. That's simply a lie.
    --------------
    That is not lie. It is simply not the majority opinion that his words convince people to assume.

    July 18, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. bb

    Did the poll ask the responders if they actually knew whose job it is to set the deal on the debt ceiling talks, which is CONGRESS? From the loaded poll question, it doesn't appear that way.

    July 18, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. Average Joe

    Why would the President be "Responsible to the Tea/Gop holding average Americans "Hostage" for the problems they created????? The gop is going to be voted out of office in 2012, for the damage they have done to America! Stay your ground Mr. President on Cantor,McConnell,and Speaker Bohener? They are not fit for governing our country!!!! Americans must "Eat and have Healthcare,especially our "Children"

    July 18, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. vet in texas

    @Concerned Voter

    Why is it everyone is blaming republicans. If you spent more money then you made there would be no one to pay your debt for you. 50% of the people complaining do not even pay any taxes currently
    ==================
    because the REPUBLICANS put 6 TRILLION on top of the 5 trillion that Clinton incurred. They don't tell you that on certain AM radio shows and Fox, the taxes need to be raised on the top 2% 3.9% to pay for the 6 trillion they put on the books, the spending cuts are to pay for Obama's 3 trillion (actuall 1.5 trillion based on W's last budget/Iraq. )again, you won't hear that where you get your news from.

    July 18, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Emmy Skaddittle

    how fast does it take for the rush parrots to try and discredit the "drive by media" maybe if the rank and file republicans told their billionaire masters where to go, we would get things done

    July 18, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Amazingly, Republicans are trying to reintroduce the American people to see the sensibility of the Ryan Plan, which requires that the deficit be raised anyway. Which does not balance the annual budget for decades. Which includes even more *personal* tax cuts for the wealthy, and none of the *business* tax cuts favored by Democrats.

    July 18, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. Four and The Door

    American
    Political spin is a two-way street, such as when Boehner says that people do not want to raised taxes. That's simply a lie.
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________
    This is precious. Regular citizens apparently screaming for higher taxes. Another reason I think Democratic Spin Doctors should be given a special award for acheivement at this year's Oscars. They are simply the best at what they do. Politicians in Greece could come and study their methods.

    July 18, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  23. ncscotty

    what happened to the "untouchable" social securty trust funds? Has two trillion $ plus been tapped into by "our" government too?

    July 18, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. John, PA

    In what nation did you take this poll ????
    9 out of 10 where I work don't agree with this president on the debt ceiling, raising taxes or his economic plans, Obama is a failure.

    July 18, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. vet in texas

    I understand we need to "shrink government", however we needed to do it at a small pace for this reason:

    Government employees hire "small business" for goods and services, when they need an addition to their home, their car repaired, their clothes dry cleaned, their garage door fixed........they hire a "small business man", when they don't have a job they won't hire those people, thus they loose customers, if they lose customers then they can't hire anyone.

    After this realization, it appears to me that certain governors are doing this on purpose all in the name of "curbing unions" or the even more famous "shrink government". I would think it sounded like a good idea until I learned that this is because government unions contribute heavily to democrats.......I get it, however, when you exclude certain public unions because they donate heavily to republicans (see Wisconsin police and fireman) then you automatically create a budget issue by giving tax cuts to "job creators" (who haven't hired anybody) then your just proving one thing. Eliminating jobs strictly to keep employment numbers high.

    Why were jobs gaining over 200,000 in the first 4 months of 2010, then all of the sudden stop to 80,000, then 52,000?
    looks like that would make someone else's policy look as if it wasn't working.....I'm amazed so many "I know what they are trying to do" Americans couldn't see that?

    July 18, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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