Poll: Americans Want Spending Cuts in Exchange for Debt Ceiling Increase

Pervasive pessimism about the economy, limited experience of sequester also revealed

Sen Mitch McConnell after a debt agreement was reached in 2011 / AP
• September 4, 2013 2:25 pm


A new poll found that a majority of Americans support spending cuts in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling ahead of negotiations over the federal government’s funding and debt ceiling.

The poll, sponsored by Public Notice and conducted by the Tarrance Group, also found significant pessimism about the economy’s prospects and a distrust of government debt and spending.

The government’s current funding will end on Sep. 30, and if Congress does not pass another continuing resolution many parts of the government will shut down. The federal government will hit its congressionally imposed debt ceiling only a couple of weeks later, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress.

Fifty-eight percent of those polled said any increase in the debt ceiling should be at least matched with an equal decrease in government spending. Sixty-four percent said that increased government spending hurts the economy, while 84 percent said the debt does the same.

The poll also revealed pervasive pessimism about the economy throughout the country. Almost half said they thought the economy would worsen in the future. A third said the worst of the economic recession is in the past, while 15 percent said America is facing the worst of the economy right now.

802 registered voters were called between Aug. 25 and 28, and the sample had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

President Barack Obama and House Republicans have clashed in the past over fiscal issues. Earlier this year the two sides faced off in a series of confrontations over the debt ceiling, spending cuts, and tax hikes.

After much wrangling, House Republicans agreed to raise the debt ceiling and Obama agreed to make permanent much of the Bush-era tax cuts.

However, the two sides ultimately could not reach an agreement on the mandatory spending cuts known as the "sequester." The president and Democratic lawmakers predicted the sequester would hurt the economy.

However, the Public Notice poll found that 70 percent of voters have not felt the impact of the sequester. Only 27 percent reported feeling the cuts’ effects.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) has pushed for an equal decrease in government spending for any increase in the debt limit in past negotiations over the debt ceiling, although he dropped that demand in negotiations earlier this year.