Majority of Americans Want Government to Avoid ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Majority of Americans Want Government to Avoid ‘Fiscal Cliff’

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62 percent of Americans would like to see federal government leaders compromise on an agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff” budget measures set to go into effect next month, more than twice the 25 percent who want leaders to stick to their principles on spending cuts and tax increases. A majority of all party groups favor compromise.

The results are based on a Dec. 1-2 Gallup poll, conducted roughly a month before the Jan. 1 deadline that would put into place major spending cuts and tax increases as a consequence of the failure of last year’s federal deficit reduction “supercommittee” to reach an agreement.

Americans are a bit more optimistic than pessimistic that an agreement will be reached before the deadline – 58 percent say it is very or somewhat likely that leaders will find a solution; 39 percent say it is not likely.

Democrats are much more optimistic that the government will find a solution than Republicans are – 77 percent of Democrats believe it is at least somewhat likely that an agreement will be reached, compared with 43 percent of Republicans.

Obama Gets Highest Marks for Handling Negotiations

Americans are most likely to approve of the way President Obama is handling the negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff measures, with 52 percent approving of his efforts. Americans are least likely to approve of Republican congressional leaders, at 27 percent. Slightly more, 39 percent approve of the Democratic congressional leaders.

Obama’s advantage may partly be the result of Americans’ more favorable views of him than of Congress in general, given that his overall job approval ratings are near 50 percent, while Congress’ as a whole are below 20 percent.

But clearly at this point, Republican leaders are perceived the most negatively on handling the fiscal cliff negotiations. That is in part because Republican Party supporters give their congressional leaders a relatively tepid approval rating, 55 percent. By comparison, Democrats rate the job their party’s congressional leaders (75 percent), and the job President Obama is doing (86 percent), much more positively. Independents rate Democratic leaders slightly better than Republican leaders, 27 percent to 20 percent, but majorities of independents disapprove of both sets of party leaders.

Implications

Americans clearly want to see government leaders reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff measures. The alternative, leaders sticking to their principles, could result in no agreement and major tax increases and spending cuts going into effect on Jan. 1 as scheduled. The fiscal cliff is looming precisely because Congress as a whole could not reach an agreement on deficit reduction last August when it raised the federal debt limit. Nor could the congressional supercommittee – tasked with finding a bipartisan deficit-reduction plan – reach an agreement last November.

To date, both Republicans and the president have put forth their own proposals, but each was rejected by the other side.

Nevertheless, at this point, Americans are more optimistic than pessimistic that an agreement will be reached. Whether that optimism persists as the countdown to the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff continues remains to be seen, and is something Gallup will continue to update between now and the deadline.

Source: Gallup

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