Poll: Debt ceiling blame game
July 18th, 2011
10:18 AM ET
7 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. ncscotty

    how is it that mr.obama can threaten to withold these already funded monies?

    July 18, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    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!
    Democrats have already tried that without success. Carter had a number of clean energy policies in place when he left office. In fact, Carter even had solar panels on the White House roof. Reagan came in and killed all of the funding for those energy policies arguing that it was wasteful spending. Reagan also removed the solar panels from the White House claiming they, too, were not cost effective. And Republicans have fought tooth and nail against any sort of energy reform ever since.

    July 18, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Rudy NYC


    how is it that mr.obama can threaten to withold these already funded monies?
    Because conservatives say the programs have already run out of money.

    July 18, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. 'merica ruined by rethugs

    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 |
    Hmmmmm, I heard that the USDOJ is opening up an investigation about Rupert's business practices here in the US. You might want to find a new place to work other than one of Ruppie's media pawns.
    On a serious note, you're sorely misguided if you believe that the "will of the people" is in line with the rubbish the GOP is trying to sell, turn off Faux Noise and Rush to find out what's happening in the real world, pal. Elections have consequences, GOP will see when this costs them dearly in Nov 2012

    July 18, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. Rob Johnson

    The GOP had a golden opportunity to get a lot of things they want out of Obama, even though a lot of Democrats would have been angry with Obama for doing so. All they had to do was agree to close some loopholes, it's not like Obama was even talking about raising taxes outright. Due to their own childish inflexibility, they will end up getting much less of what they want, and will look bad in the process.

    71-21 is a bad split. That means that the only people happy with the Republicans are the hardcore Tea Party types, and you can't win elections with 21% of the people behind you.

    July 18, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Marry

    Yes, the GOP/TP is playing a lot of games. Games of deception, distortion of facts, games filled with utter untruthfulness. All this to avoid their responsibility and to explain their concept of “NO”. They do anything to gain power on the basis of lies because, they cannot convince with solutions – and in the process, even risk a financial meltdown. Absolutely disgusting! Who in their right mind would fall for this?

    July 18, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. ChargeIt

    Why does the President feel that a "balanced" approach to the debt ceiling is a great idea, but a balanced budget amendment is a bad one?

    We should all pay our income taxes with our credit cards and then default on the credit card payments.

    July 18, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. John, PA

    Elections have consequences!
    We voted the Democrats out in 2010 and Obama and the 23 Senators up for election in 2012 better understand their jobs are on the line, they will be replaced. We are at depression levels of employment in America our government debt is at crisis levels.

    July 18, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. AEK

    Congress rubber stamped the debt ceiling increase seven out of the eight years Mr. Bush was President. What gives now? Of course if the dirty little wars he was waging at the time had been "on the books" that might have been a different story, but I doubt it. This is another effort on the part of Republicans to make President Obama look bad and put the country in more jeopardy. They will do ANYTHING to get a Republican elected to the White House regardless of how it hurts the country.

    July 18, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Rob Johnson

    ncscotty, there is no Social Security "lockbox" to use Al Gore's phrase. It's all in the general fund, which is what is supposedly going to dry up in August.

    The SS brings in money, just not as much as is going out, so it's not totally "funded." Remember, when Social Security was first created, 65 was the average life expectancy in this country. Since we live close to 80 now, no surprise that the math no longer adds up.

    Compared to some of the political challenges we face, this one is actually pretty easy to solve. Tie in Social Security eligibility to the average US life expectancy, and boom, fixed.

    July 18, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Here's what Republicans do not seem to understand. They feel that they are the equalizer against liberal politicians and policies. What they do not realize is that the entire Democratic caucus doesn't vote like a hive mind. The Democratic Party has enough diversity within its' ranks to balance itself.

    July 18, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. phuyay

    We have so much debt, even if the debt ceiling is raised, Moody's is still likely to down grade America's bond rating. it looks as if we are darned if we do and darned if we don't. The problem is spending. Unless we get a handle on that, outsiders like the bond rating agencies are going to act. The fact Obama wanted a "clean" debt ceiling raising shows how little he knows or cares how big our debt gets. In a few short years, our freedom of action will be taken away from us and we will become just like Greece.

    July 18, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. sonny chapman

    Attention Republicans: The American Economy would COLLAPSE if all G'uvment spending was stopped ! I know this is hard to accept & goes against your view of how you wish the world were, but it's the TRUTH. Progressive have accepted the reality that the 60's Dream of Peace/Love had to be modified. You guys need to do the same thing. It's called Growing Up. And while we're talking about Urban Legends, there is no Tooth Fairy.

    July 18, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. chris mathey

    if they took away benifits it will hurt us all if they go ahead and do that they may as well make more money to save there selfs instead of taking away benfites that people need

    July 18, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    phuyay wrote:
    The problem is spending.
    The more significant problem is revenue. Lost revenue. The high unemployment amounts for a couple hundred billion in loss revenue. The Bush Tax Cuts cost half a trillion of deficit every year. Tax cuts that disporportionately favor *personal* tax cuts for wealthy individuals. Democrats believe in *business* tax cuts to stimulate the economy, not *personal* tax cuts.

    July 18, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. diridi

    Repugs....say this out loud and clear....stop spending on Social Security, and Medicare...please...please do this favor....o.k,

    July 18, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Four and The Door

    I guess Four and The Door is ok with people who owe him money not paying him when they have the ability to.
    I'm not against raising the debt ceiling. I'm against the out-of-control spending that will cause it to keep having to go up. Believe me, Obama would be delighted to raise the debt ceiling to $25 trillion with no conditions on reducing spending. And he would continue spending without bound. Thank goodness we gave some authority to Republicans in 2010. They may literally be saving our country from financial disaster.

    July 18, 2011 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. johnmenacherjr

    Poor republicans??? What a load of Bull. People in this country are stupid to say the least you cant work with people who refuse to work with anyone pure and simple. As far as I am concerned I have hardly anything left just let the whole thing crash and burn! the heck with it the republicans want that give it to themand just let it happen. People in this country are just trying to pin the blame and heavan knows how many people have been mistaken and executed the wrong person in the past now is no different Let it crash and burn We will just get taxed beyond beleif for the rich anyways!

    July 18, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Rob Johnson wrote:
    ncscotty, there is no Social Security "lockbox" to use Al Gore's phrase. It's all in the general fund....
    The funds are separate. You should try googling "Social Security Act of 1935". It even includes language that allows for the funds to be invested in ways that are guaranteed to be profitable, provided the dollars are paid back in full with those profits.

    July 18, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. gt

    its both parties fault.. they spend to much money. they have to many give away programs for people who wont work, 2 wars ...both stink...

    July 18, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Ty Chicago

    This validates the lack of leadership the Democrats and liberals have shown all along....sit back and wait for the Republicans to show leadership and bring forth a plan, and then take all of the political pot shots they can. Unfortunately this poll only confirms that taking the easy, self-serving silent road can serve them politically. I would expect them to continue to game the gullible public going forward regardless of the debt ceiling outcome – they will spin it to show how the Republicans only want to protect the millionaires and starve children and take away Grandma's healthcare, and they will still not offer any solutions to stop the runaway train towards a Greece-like ending.

    July 18, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. Dmorris Engage America

    If the government could come to an agreement on at least one issue it might give Americans a little bit of hope during this bleak time. With many columnists and politicians backing a popular revenue neutral compromise on corporate taxes it seems like the easiest area to start.

    Conservatives want to lower the statutory tax rate from 35% to around 25% to enable American companies to be more competitive abroad while also encouraging new investment from foreign multinationals. On the other hand, liberals want to remove the loopholes and tax breaks that allow multinationals to move around their money allowing them to barely pay income taxes. This adjustment would force the biggest tax avoiders in America to pay a fair tax rate like the rest of American businesses.

    If both sides were really interested in shared sacrifice for the better of the country they would put these changes into the tax code. Does anyone disagree?

    July 18, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Four wrote;
    I'm not against raising the debt ceiling. I'm against the out-of-control spending that will cause it to keep having to go up.
    Wow!. That's the same argument Democrats make against the Bush Tax Cuts. Democrats feel it is insane to borrow money in order to pay for it. If the budget was balanced, there would be no objection, but the cuts unbalanced the budget.

    July 18, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Sandy

    Republicans voted to raise the debt limit 7 times under Bush with NO STRING ATTACHED! Republicans all voted for the Ryan plan, which adds $6 TRILLION to the debt and RAISES THE DEBT CEILING to balance the budget. So the only reason they won't raise the debt ceiling without strings attached is because Obama is the President requesting it. I was watching and interview with one of the tea party members in the house and although he voted 3 times previously to raise the debt limit, he won't do it for Obama, even though he already voted for the Ryan plan which increases our debt and raises the debt ceiling. There's all the proof that I need that they are only doing this because they hate Obama and want to score political points, nothing more.

    Oh and since Republicans insisted that cuts be attached to the raising of the debt ceiling, now Obama is insisting that revenue be attached as well, but now they want a clean raising of the ceiling because revenue has to be attached otherwise and Obama is saying no way, you wanted to attach it to something, so let's attach it to revenue. The Republicans can't vote for that because they signed that stupid pledge, that doesn't allow them to compromise at all. Doesn't signing a pledge directly conflict with their oath of office? By signing of the pledge they are beholden to a only their base and not the rest of the country that they swore to represent.

    July 18, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Ty Chicago

    Also, let's not forget....the reason we are at this point is because the Democrats decided to drive spending to the limit without even passing a budget. The plan all along was if they couldn't get taxes raised prior to driving the spending up they would push the Republicans into a corner by simply not passing a budget, spend freely and irresponsibly, and when the bills couldn't be paid any more when up against the debt ceiling insist on tax increases. And still present themselves as the responsible adults in the room even though they are completely to blame. But hey, don't forget Rahm's philosophy – a good crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

    The Republicans are foolish to have let themselves get backed into this corner as hindsight now reveals the liberal strategy.

    July 18, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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