While Republicans in Congress have remained united in their opposition to any tax increases, the poll finds GOP majorities favoring some of the specific changes advocated by the president, including higher income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.
There is also broad dissatisfaction with Obama’s unwillingness to reach across the aisle: Nearly six in 10 of those polled say the president has not been open enough to compromise. Among independents, 79 percent say Republicans aren’t willing enough to make a deal, while 62 percent say the same of Obama.
Republicans may also be losing the war of perception about who stands with whom in the debates over the deficit and the economy. A majority view the president as more committed to protecting the interests of the middle class and small businesses, while large majorities see Republicans as defending the economic interests of big corporations and Wall Street financial institutions.
If there were an economic breakdown, neither side would escape blame. Forty-two percent say they would mostly hold the GOP responsible, and 36 percent say Obama would be at fault. But Republicans in Congress are also under increasing pressure from their own partisans.
Although some Republican lawmakers have cast doubt on the seriousness of the Aug. 2 deadline, majorities across party lines in the poll predict dire economic consequences if the two sides fail to extend the government’s borrowing power and a default results.
The sputtering negotiations and rhetorical standoffs have further damaged the image of Washington in the eyes of the public. Fully 80 percent are now “dissatisfied” or “angry” about the way the federal government is working, rising 11 percentage points from June to the highest level in polls going back to the early 1990s. The sharp increase in dissatisfaction with the government coincides with the fractious deficit negotiations and a clear hardening along party lines in Congress.
In a sign of the potential political consequences of the public’s discontent, 63 percent of all Americans say they are inclined to look around for new representatives in the 2012 elections, the highest on record in Post-ABC polls.
Hope, but also concern
Overall, a 54 percent majority say the president and Congress are likely to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by the August deadline. But there is clear concern that neither side is willing to budge.
More than three-quarters of Americans say the Republican leadership is too averse to compromise on the deficit. Even among Republicans, 58 percent see the GOP as too resistant to a deal, up from 42 percent in March.