Americans blame all sides for committee failure: poll

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:53pm EST

An aide peeks in the committee room door as Democratic members of the 'super committee' wrap up a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington November 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

An aide peeks in the committee room door as Democratic members of the 'super committee' wrap up a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington November 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans blame the failure of the debt "super committee" on everyone involved, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday, despite the best efforts of Democrats and Republicans to point fingers at each other.

Nineteen percent blamed a combination of Democratic and Republican lawmakers for the congressional committee's inability to agree to a deficit plan.

Twenty-two percent held a mix of lawmakers from both parties and Democratic President Barack Obama accountable.

"It's sort of a 'pox on everyone's home' situation," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.

The 12-member congressional committee abandoned its effort to address the U.S. debt crisis on Monday, cementing perceptions that Republicans and Democrats are too divided to tackle the country's biggest problems.

"This just damages Americans' trust in Congress and in Washington and in the political process," Clark said.

The impasse also added to Americans' fears for their pocketbooks. Thirty-five percent said they were most concerned that the committee's failure would lead to a decline in the U.S. economy, compared with outcomes such as worry that the deficit would rise.

While squabbles over the committee have dominated political headlines, nearly one in five Americans, or 17 percent, had not heard anything about it, and nearly another quarter, or 23 percent, had heard only a little.

But the poll showed that 18 percent blamed Republican lawmakers most for the committee's failure, and 13 percent blamed Obama most.

Only 7 percent primarily blamed Democratic lawmakers, according to the online survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday.

CONGRESS VIEWED VERY POORLY

The impasse made Americans feel even worse about their legislators, after several national polls putting Congress' approval in the single digits even before the announcement about the failure of the debt committee.

Half of respondents said they viewed Congress less favorably.

Obama has cranked up his rhetoric against Congress as his campaign for re-election next year picks up speed.

He challenged legislators on Tuesday to vote next week to save an expiring payroll tax cut.

But Obama did not escape unscathed in the poll. More than a third of those polled said it made them feel less favorably about the Democratic president, who has been criticized for failing to do more to push recalcitrant Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to work together.

Thirty-five percent said the committee's failure made their view of Obama less favorable, compared with 14 percent who said it made them more so, and 38 percent who said it made no difference.

Only 5 percent of the survey respondents said the committee's failure made them less likely to vote in 2012.

The online survey also found that more than a third of Americans agreed with Obama's "balanced approach," to tackling the deficit, with 35 percent seeing a combination of cuts in existing programs and higher taxes as the best way to reduce the yawning budget gap.

The poll was conducted November 21-22, after it became known that the committee would not reach an agreement.

The survey of 1,331 Americans, ages 18 and over, included 501 Republicans and 608 Democrats. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls but this poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by Alistair Bell)

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