Washington (CNN) – Americans are hungry for a solution to the debt ceiling debate but there is a big partisan divide that isn't going to make a solution easy to achieve, according to a new national survey.
And a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that while Democrats and independent voters are open to a number of different approaches, Republicans draw the line at tax increases, and many of them oppose raising the nation's debt ceiling under any circumstances.
"That may create a problem for the Republican party, because most Americans think that GOP has been acting irresponsibly in the debt ceiling talks and they will blame congressional Republicans, not President Barack Obama, if no action is taken on the debt ceiling by August 2," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The survey's Thursday release comes as time is running out to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction deal which increase the government's borrowing limit, so it can continue to pay its bills after August 2. If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by that date, Americans could face rising interest rates, a declining dollar and increasingly jittery financial markets, among other problems.
Eighteen percent of people questioned say that if the debt ceiling is not raised, it would cause a crisis, with another 43 percent saying it would create major problems for the country. Three in ten say a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause only minor problems and six percent say no problems would occur.
As expected, there's a partisan divide.
"Democrats and independents predict that not raising the debt ceiling will create a crisis or major problems in the U.S." adds Holland. "Roughly half of all Republicans think that will create only minor problems or no problems at all."
The survey is the sixth poll released over the past week to indicate that a solid majority of the public want any agreement to raise the debt ceiling to include both spending cuts and tax increases. Sixty-four percent of people questioned in the CNN/ORC survey say they want a budget plan with both spending cuts and tax hikes for businesses and higher-income Americans.
Again, there's a partisan divide, with 83 percent of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents but just 37 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of self described tea party movement supports saying they prefer a combined approach. A majority of Republicans and tea party supporters prefer a plan that only includes spending cuts.
"Democrats and independents don't see anything wrong with raising the debt ceiling as long as Congress takes action to reduce the amount of money the government owes, and some of them are willing to raise the debt ceiling even without any action by Congress at all," says Holland.
"Republicans won't even go that far - a majority of GOPers oppose raising the debt ceiling even if Congress passes a budget plan."
According to the poll, Democrats and independents favor a plan that would cut $2 to $4 trillion and increase some taxes - something similar to the "Gang of Six' proposal by a bipartisan group of senators, or the "grand bargain" that the president has been advocating in recent weeks. Republicans oppose that approach.
Republicans like the "cut, cap, and balance" approach to the debt ceiling, as do Democrats and independents. Most Americans support a balanced budget amendment, and most, but not as many, think an amendment is necessary to get federal spending under control. A balanced budget amendment passed the House earlier this week, but a vote in the Senate is expected to fail.
But the poll indicates that few like the fallback plan to raise the debt ceiling. The proposal, first advocated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would give the president the ability to raise the debt ceiling essentially on his own.
The poll indicates the Republican party is likely to lose the "blame game" if it comes to that. Most Americans think Obama has acted responsibly in the debt ceiling discussions so far, but nearly two-thirds say the Republicans in Congress have not acted responsibly. Fifty-one percent say they would blame the GOP if the debt ceiling is not raised; only three in ten would blame the president.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on July 18-20, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.