Public opinion favors compromise on deficit deal

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:03pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans favor a compromise of spending cuts and tax increases by Washington to reduce the U.S. deficit, according to two polls on Thursday that highlight a powerful incentive for a deal.

Democratic President Barack Obama wants a grand bargain to lower the deficit by trillions of dollars and lift the U.S. debt ceiling by an August 2 deadline to prevent a potentially devastating default.

Budget talks between the White House and Republican lawmakers have stalled on the issue of tax increases, which Democrats insist must be part of any deficit reduction deal. Republicans strongly oppose any tax hikes.

But shifting public opinion could tip the balance in favor of a deal if Republicans decide they will bear the most blame from voters in next year's election if Washington fails to act on the debt ceiling and the economy tips back into recession.

"Americans are overwhelmingly in support of a compromise," said Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "That is a strong majority opinion."

A CNN/ORC International poll found 64 percent of those surveyed would prefer to trim the deficit by both spending cuts and tax increases, while a Washington Post-ABC News poll put that proportion at 62 percent, up from 57 percent in June.

"What the polls really show is dissatisfaction with everybody. The president is doing a lot better than the Republicans in Congress right now, but there is just widespread dissatisfaction," Bowman said.

Over three-quarters of the Washington Post-ABC News poll felt the Republican Party had not been willing enough to compromise with Obama for a deal, up from 71 percent n March.

More than half of those surveyed by CNN/ORC said Republicans should be blamed if the debt ceiling was not raised, compared to 30 percent who felt Obama would be responsible.

"I think public opinion is shifting and this is an issue that Republicans had traditionally led on," said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at the Third Way think tank.

Republicans won heavily in congressional elections last year on a message of curbing government spending that capitalized on public anger over the soaring U.S. deficit, but Kessler said voters also want lawmakers in Washington to work together.

"Democrats seem to be winning the battle of seriousness because they've put everything on the table and Republicans have not," he said. "I think they are acutely aware that this debate seems to have turned against them."

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (38)
finnegann wrote:
What are these survey people smoking!?! No, we don’t want a compromise that includes raising our taxes. We have been compromising enough already with the taxes we already pay and by allowing countless stimulus failures and debt throttling!!! The US taxpayer has already met government spending MORE than half way. We have compromised enough. It is time for the government to give and to scale back.

Jul 21, 2011 7:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
USMCPatriot wrote:
This part of the public is certainly not for any mamby-pamby chicken out compromise that is going to do nothing but delay the inevitable. Anyone who thinks we can buy time and borrow our way out of this mess, or let inflation take care of it ten years down the road has to be absolutely stupid. Ain’t going to happen! We either bite the bullet now, or we bite it in a few months or maybe next year. Anyway it’s looked at we have a bullet on the platter and we’re going to end up biting it.

Jul 21, 2011 8:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
USAPragmatist wrote:
SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT!!!…That is pretty big swing, one wonders why Mr. McConnell was trying to find a back door out?

Jul 21, 2011 8:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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