There is widespread public concern over the latest partisan hot potato – whether or not to raise the debt ceiling above the current $14 trillion level to keep the government solvent.
A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday finds concerns running two ways: 77 percent worry that raising the debt limit would increase federal spending. But almost as many – 73 percent – worry that not raising the debt limit would force the government into default and hurt the economy.
There is plenty of overlap between the two responses, with 64 percent of the public saying they are worried about both raising and not raising the debt ceiling. But the greater fear rests with the prospect of raising the debt limit.
Nearly half – 47 percent – are very concerned that a higher limit would mean more spending and more debt. Fewer, 37 percent, have the same high level fear over not extending the credit limit and hurting the economy.
Partisan divides underlie these judgments. Greater fear over raising the debt limit spikes among Republicans, with 61 percent saying they are very concerned. Democrats and independents show less concern at 40 and 46 percent respectively.
Almost half – 48 percent – of Democrats express high-level concern over the prospect of not raising the debt limit. That falls to 34 and 31 percent among Republicans and independents.