Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are increasingly dismissive of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s warnings that Congress must raise the debt limit prior to August 2nd or risk economic “catastrophe.”
The WSJ reports today that a growing number conservative lawmakers – including a number of freshman Republicans who campaigned against raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit – say Geithner is exaggerating the potential danger. They argue that by shifting money around and making spending cuts, the U.S. can avoid default.
Republican leaders are alarmed by the lack of urgency. They are now holding “listening sessions” to try and instill an awareness of the potential consequences of a U.S. default.
scepticism among Republican representatives is likely fuelled – at least in part – by voter opposition to increasing the debt limit. According to a new Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans – and an overwhelming majority of Republican voters – want their Congressional representatives to vote against raising the ceiling.
The poll, released today, found that 47% of Americans are opposed to raising the debt limit, compared to only 19% who said they favoured an increase. The remaining 34% said they didn’t know enough about the issue to say.
Among Republican voters, opposition stands at 70%, compared to just 8% who say they are in favour of raising the debt limit. Opposition among independents stands at 46%, versus 15% who are in favour.
Democrats, on the other hand, are in favour of raising the ceiling by 33% to 26%.
The poll also found that a majority of Americans – 57% – are closely following the debt ceiling debate.