Most Democrats oppose increasing the age for Medicare eligibility and changing how Social Security benefits are calculated, two major changes that Obama has suggested could be part of a “grand bargain” aimed at overcoming the debt-limit impasse.
Majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the poll agree on other items considered for a potential deal — raising taxes on high-wage earners and on oil and gas companies.
Republicans split on taxes
GOP leaders have said repeatedly that they oppose the inclusion of any new taxes in an agreement, in part because their rank and file is strongly resistant to them. But the Post-ABC News poll shows a Republican Party clearly divided on that question.
Overall, more than six in 10 Americans say a plan to reduce the deficit should include a combination of spending cuts and new taxes, rather than exclusively one or the other. Big majorities of Democrats and independents and nearly half of all Republicans support the mixed approach.
But the GOP argument that spending cuts create jobs has advanced a bit since March. Nearly half of all Americans say big cuts in federal spending would spur new jobs, a six-point increase. But a similar 44 percent see such cuts as more apt to slice the number of jobs.
Although Obama appears to be on more solid ground than Republicans in terms of public opinion on these issues, he has clear political vulnerabilities. His overall approval rating remains below the 50 percent mark and, at 47 percent, is one point from a career low in Post-ABC polling.
Fifty-seven percent of all Americans disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy, and 60 percent give him negative marks on the deficit. Those who “strongly disapprove” of how he is dealing with each of these issues outnumber those who either “strongly” or “somewhat” approve.
But the GOP is doing worse in these areas: Sixty-seven percent of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are handling the economy, and 68 percent give them low marks when it comes to the deficit.
Who cares more?
On other measures, the president comes out ahead of Republicans: By 47 percent to 37 percent, Americans say Obama cares more about protecting their own families’ economic interests than do the Republicans. By an almost identical margin, the president is seen as caring more about the economic interests of small businesses, which Republicans long have championed as part of their core coalition.
More than eight in 10 — including 80 percent of Republicans — say there would be serious harm to the U.S. economy if the government could not continue to borrow money to fund its operations and pay its debts after Aug. 2.
Nearly as many — more than three-quarters — say the financial reputation of the United States would be severely undermined if the government’s borrowing power dried up. Six in 10 say such an event would deeply hurt their own financial situations.
Polling manager Peyton M. Craighill and polling analyst Scott Clement contributed to this report.