Most Americans oppose a clean raise in the debt limit without budget cuts attached to a new spending bill, but they are also opposed to using a government shutdown to force those cuts, a new poll shows.
The poll, commissioned by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the Conservative-leaning American Action Forum, comes as the government continues to haggle over raising the so-called debt limit, where the government will run out of money to pay the nation’s bills without a deal between the White House and Congress to borrow more. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that the debt limit will be reached “no later than October 17.”
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner that was released by the Treasury Department on Wednesday morning, Lew said that the Treasury would not have enough money to “meet our country’s commitments” less than three weeks from today. Both the Senate and the House had previously said that mid-October was the deadline for increasing the debt limit.
But a recent poll shows that Americans are offering mixed messages about how the government should approach a new spending deal. While 65% of Americans oppose raising the debt limit with no policy changes, they appear adamantly opposed to a government shutdown.
The president’s universal health care law known as ObamaCare remains unpopular, with 55% opposing the law, and 35% in support. But 51% of those polled say they are against shutting down the government to defund ObamaCare as some in Congress suggest.
Still, Americans appear to oppose many of the big-government policies of the Obama Administration. A delay in ObamaCare garnered 54% support in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, while 64% support reforming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as the food stamp program) and 73% support easing America’s dependence upon Mideast oil and lowering the cost of gasoline by building the Keystone Oil Pipeline.
“As Congress begins to consider legislation to increase the debt limit our poll finds that the majority of Americans see a role for the President to negotiate with Congress and get the debt under control,” Holtz-Eakin said in a statement.
The national poll of 800 registered voters was conducted from September 13-18, 2013, and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.
The last time that the nation faced a government shutdown in 2011, the U.S. credit rating was downgraded. Lew wrote that “if Congress were to repeat that brinksmanship in 2013, it could inflict even greater harm on the economy.”
The treasury secretary went on to say that the fallout from the government not being able to pay all of its bills could be “catastrophic.”
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