CNN Poll: Half favor Obama on budget but majority oppose raising debt ceiling
May 5th, 2011
07:46 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Half favor Obama on budget but majority oppose raising debt ceiling

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Americans are increasingly taking President Barack Obama's side in the battle over the federal budget, according to a new national poll.

Full results (pdf)

But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that fewer than four in 10 agree with the president when it comes to raising the nation's debt ceiling. The poll's Thursday morning release comes just a few hours before Republican and Democratic congressional leaders join Vice President Joe Biden for a bipartisan meeting on the budget.

Half of the people questioned in the poll say they prefer Obama's approach to the budget over the proposals from congressional Republicans, with 42% saying they prefer the GOP approach.

"That's a switch from March, a when a plurality favored the Republicans," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The numbers are virtually the same on Medicare, with 49% saying they prefer the president's approach compared to four in 10 who favor the GOP proposals on Medicare."

House Republicans say that their budget, put together by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman, will save Medicare and keep it secure for future retirees. Democrats say the opposite is true, that the GOP plan will end the entitlement program in its current form and force seniors to pay much more for their health care coverage.

The House passed the Republican plan last month, but it faces serious opposition in the Democratically controlled Senate.

The poll indicates that 60% of the public opposes raising the debt ceiling.

"One reason may be that while many Americans predict major problems if the debt ceiling were not increased, only one in six think it would create a crisis in the U.S.  And only a quarter think that the debt ceiling affects their personal financial situation a great deal," says Holland.

But according to the survey, the president has one advantage: Roughly half say that he has acted responsibly in discussions with the GOP on the debt ceiling, compared to only a third who think that the Republicans in Congress have acted responsibly on this issue.

The pace of U.S. borrowing is still on track to hit the current $14.294 trillion debt ceiling by May 16. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Monday that he would start taking "extraordinary measures" this week to keep the country's debt below its legal limit. In a letter to Congress, he also said that he now estimates he can keep the country out of default until August 2, three weeks later than he estimated last month.

Congressional Republicans and some Democrats say they will not support an increase to the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied by spending cuts and enforceable budget measures designed to keep spending or deficits down. And agreements on those types of measures will take some time.

If the debt ceiling isn't raised, lawmakers will have two choices: Either cut spending or raise taxes by that amount, or let the country miss payments on many of its legal obligations.

Geithner said missing any payments would amount to default, a step the United States has never taken and which could have "catastrophic economic impact that would be felt by every Americans." Some Republicans who are using the debt ceiling to extract fiscal concessions, however, say the country will not be in default so long as it continues to pay interest on its bonds.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted April 29-May 1, with 1,034 adult Americans questioned by telephone. All interviews were completed before news of Osama bin Laden's death was reported. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: Congress • Debt • President Obama
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Mark

    This article just shows how ignorant the average American is about finances, and the world at large. Unless the US balances its budget this month, we will need to borrow more money and therefore raise the debt ceiling. If we dont raise the debt ceiling, we will default as a country. This will cause a world wide economic crash, and a depression. We should balance the budget, but it wont happen this year, so people need to get real about finance. Oh wait, if they were real about finance, many of them wouldnt be in foreclosure or have unsustainable credit card debt.

    May 5, 2011 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  2. Frank

    Funny how the GOP used the Bin Laden photo debate to admit that cuts in Medical/Medicaid should now be dropped from the Ryan budget plan. This is the problem with politicians (all), they can never admit to being wrong on an issue, they just flip flop and deny or say they were mis-quoted. These ego self absorbed people should not be making decisions if they can't admit to being wrong once in awhile. Just like in school, this is how you learn, not only by your accomplishments but by your failures.

    May 5, 2011 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  3. diridi

    Government needs to get Banks, cheating on Debit Card transaction 30%, visa and M/C 50 dollars fee...pass these needed laws.....people are hurting with banking system...Greed, Greed, Greed....with stupid, and pass laws needed to curb.....

    May 5, 2011 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  4. shawn

    Right, lets let the gop and "Crazys" send this country into complete "Failure". Thats all their looking for is to "Trip our President into failing? "Let me remind the Repubs out there, "We know who destroyed our "Economy" the Republicans! Limbaugh is a Drug Addict on Opium and codeine,Palin is a "Qwack Job" Trump is a con-artist "Who sells his commodities to Evil Enemies like Kaddafy? Lets not go down that "Road Again" Pawlenty,Rand,and the rest,"Want to throw our retirement age under the "Bridges". Great Party???????

    May 5, 2011 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  5. Sonnie2

    Gas is high and going Higher! Food is up big time !!!
    Inflation is going higher at a steady to fast pace.
    If you want to fan the flames and feed the fire/ Just print more money???????????
    DAH?? go figure. Stupid is as Stupid does. (stupid has been around a long time in government)
    Bit the bullet I say/ Before it all blows up.

    May 5, 2011 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  6. ConservaFASCISTS

    If you ask majority of Americans how many times has the debt ceiling been raised in the last 20 years, a majority will answer incorrectly.

    May 5, 2011 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  7. Major

    Just start cutting expenses, pensions, medicare, salaries, give IOU to contractors and see how long the American public can agree not to raise the Debt ceiling.

    Both parties have voted for the 2011 budget which will increase the debt by $600 Billion over the current debt ceiling by September 30 of this year and even Senator Paul budget voted by all Republicans will raise the debt another $1000 Billion or so next year.

    In this poll the Americans are saying I want to stop paying my mortgage and my taxes, but I want to stay in my house and keep my expenses about the same. Good luck with that.

    What people do not realize is that even with all other expenses flat, total debt will still increase a lot every single year, just because of the interest. We have spent more than we make for years, the party is over time to pay and cut expense or loose the house.

    May 5, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  8. chill

    Not raising the debt ceiling to allow the US to pay OBLIGATIONS that it has ALREADY INCURRED would make us a deadbeat. That's the only thing at issue here. I get the battle over the budget and spending, but not raising the ceiling when needed is liek the ordinary person placing an order and then refusing to pay after the delivery of the goods. If the GOP wants to force the country into bankruptcy, it will be on their head.

    May 5, 2011 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "The poll indicates that 60% of the public opposes raising the debt ceiling."
    People want to have their cake and eat it, too. Something has to give, and soon. We are going to have to make some cuts that a majority of people will disfavor and not like. I don't like them. I hate the fact that we have to make them. I really try not to think about the reasons why we are in the situation that we have to make cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense.

    It feels like there has been a 30-Year plan that was put in place to deny Social Security of funds. Some controversial tax cuts have been paid for out of those funds under the rationale that increased jobs would mean increased revenues to replace the funds to pay for tax cuts. Do the math, that claim is not true at all. But it is a policy that has brought us to the brink.

    I guess it does not matter how we got here. The choice is clear and ugly. Our economy will collapse and we will have none of the safety net programs at all. Or, we can reduce their scope and cost in such a way that we will still have them. Take your pick, America.

    May 5, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. annie s

    Please God, let the American people wake up. Republicans will destroy the working classes!

    May 5, 2011 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  11. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on YOU!

    It's a shame most Americans apparently do not understand macro-economics. Not raising the debt ceiling will quite like send the entire world into a Depression worst than we have ever seen before. Even if it doesn't, it certainly will raise the cost to service America's debt to levels that will shock the ignorant people who right now cannot seem to comprehend what is at stake. We may finally see the ultimate devolution of the US as a nation brought to its knees by its collective stupidity, with a huge assist from the GOBPbaggers who care only about the interests of the filthy rich billionaires who manipulate them with fear, lies, ignorance and hate.

    May 5, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |

    Obama has done a bad job on spending and jobs for the USA...printing money is not the answer

    May 5, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    The poll indicates that most people understand what the debt ceiling actually is even less than they do the talking points.

    May 5, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  14. Bob

    The President's budget is clearly the most prudent. The republican budget is an effective middle class tax increase as it shifts more medical costs on the middle class and retirees. We need a better health care system more like the rest of the developed world, ours is clearly broken. The Presidents system is not the best, but its much better than we have. Don't let the insurance companies fool you.

    May 5, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. Ben

    51% of Americans pay no federal income tax. So it is not surprising that a majority now like Obama's approach that increasing taxes for the "rich" is the way to go. We are headed down Greece's path and can expect an anemic job growth and GDP growth as we increase taxes on the most productive part of the economy and continue to spend and distribute wealth to working age Americans through various entitlement programs including "refundable" tax "credits". I would have preferred only tax payers to have the ability to vote, because once the population learns to vote themselves benefits paid by the minority we are no different to Greece. We are well on our way to emulating them.

    May 5, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |