A new poll shows that a majority of voting Democrats want an agreement to increase the government’s borrowing limit only if it includes provisions to reduce the government’s annual budget deficit – a position that goes against the view of President Biden and Democrat leaders in Congress.
The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey taken May 11 to May 15 says that 58% of Democrats support the idea of pushing to reduce the budget deficit as part of the debt ceiling deal. It also says that another 7% of Democrats support no increase in the debt ceiling under any circumstances, a much tougher position than the one taken by national Democrat leadership.
Only a third of voting Democrats, 34%, support the stance taken by Biden and Democrat leaders that the debt limit should be increased “without conditions.”
The two parties are facing a deadline for a debt ceiling deal of somewhere around June 1, which is when the Treasury Department estimates that the government will no longer be able to pay for current spending obligations without more borrowing. Biden and his allies in Congress have said that Congress should raise the debt ceiling immediately, while Republicans have said they can only support this increase if it is paired with spending reductions.
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A GOP bill passed in the House would cut about $150 billion in discretionary spending, and Republicans are pushing Biden to support that bill as the solution that achieves the goals of both parties.
Some Democrats have floated the idea of new tax increases to reduce the annual budget deficit, an idea that Republicans have rejected. The AP poll asked only about whether the deficit should be reduced, and did not specify whether it should be reduced through spending cuts or tax hikes, which means the support for deficit reduction by 58% of Democrat voters could reflect support for higher taxes instead of reduced spending.
As expected, Republican voters in the poll took a harder line on the question of how to raise the debt ceiling. The poll showed that 71% of Republicans want to condition a higher borrowing limit on deficit reduction, and 23% opposed raising the debt ceiling under any conditions.
When averaged together, a total of 63% of voting Americans supported deficit reduction as part of the agreement, 16% said they don’t raise the borrowing limit at all, and just 19% said it should be raised without conditions.
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More than half of adults polled said they are following the debt limit fight at least somewhat closely, and most indicated they’re concerned about a potential default on the national debt.
High-level staff meetings are being held between officials at the White House and aides for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., with both parties indicating that they are pushing for a deal to meet the deadline.
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But in public, Democrats are still hammering the GOP and vulnerable lawmakers over their debt limit bill, which the left has repeatedly said would result in significant job losses and undercut vital agencies’ ability to function. Republicans are already rebranding the possible looming financial crisis as a “Biden default,” pre-emptively shoving blame onto the president and his party for failing to negotiate at all on their spending cut demands.
Sixty-six percent of respondents expressed a level of high concern about what a default would do to the U.S. economy – 71% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans.
And neither side appears thrilled with how their party is handling talks. Biden is backed by 50% of Democrats, the poll suggests, while 45% of Republican voters said they approve of how GOP congressional leaders are doing.
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