House Republicans moved Thursday to to shift focus from a fight over the continuing resolution to keep the government funded to a
battle over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
Even though failure to raise the debt limit would result in far more dire consequences for the economy than a government shutdown, polling presents compelling evidence for Republicans to pursue a fight on the debt ceiling.
Numerous polls have shown that the GOP stands to take the brunt of the blame from the American public in the event of a shutdown. According to a recent CNN/ORC poll, 51% would blame Republicans for a shutdown, while only 33% would blame President Barack Obama.
Polling on the debt ceiling is much less certain, and it reflects a lack of understanding from the American public about the consequences of hitting the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John Boehner’s office passed around Thursday morning a Bloomberg poll that shows Americans do not support a debt-ceiling increase without any conditions. In fact, 61% said it’s “right to require spending cuts when the debt ceiling is raised even if it risks default.”
That’s a top-line number that Republicans think they can use to win the argument — and, more importantly, bring Obama to the negotiating table.
Of course, there are two big caveats to the poll number. First, by a 56-26 margin, Americans oppose the cuts of the so-called “sequester.” Those were the cuts that went into effect earlier this year, as a result of the last debt-ceiling crisis. So though they may support vague “cuts” with the hike of the debt limit, Americans weren’t happy with the last cuts that resulted from the negotiations.
The other caveat is that the GOP plan on the debt ceiling isn’t exactly about spending cuts — it’s a laundry list of conservative wishes, only some of which have anything to do with reducing the debt.
But this is the fight Republicans think they can win.
“President Obama’s plan has been and still is, More Debt, No Reform,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a press conference Thursday, citing the Bloomberg poll. “The American people have soundly rejected that.”
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