Fully 58 percent of Americans say Congress should vote to extend the temporary payroll tax deduction passed last year according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Thursday, while fewer than four in 10 — 35 percent — say Congress should allow the payroll tax deduction to expire. Democrats and independents support extending the payroll tax deduction, while Republicans split evenly. Conservatives back the extension by a 54 to 42 percent margin.

Of course, the congressional battle over the tax is about whether and how to pay for such an extension. As far as general positions go, by about 2 to 1 the public says the lawmakers should focus on cutting government spending rather than increasing taxes in trying to balance the deficit, though wide majorities believe both will ultimately be necessary.

As Congress approaches hard deadlines to fund the federal government and avoid a broad-based tax increase, fully half of Americans say the 112th Congress has accomplished less than others in a separate Pew Research Center survey also released Thursday. A scant 8 percent say Congress has been more productive than in recent years. Among those who see fewer accomplishments, more people blame Republicans than Democrats — especially political independents — but nearly one in three volunteer that both parties’ leaders are to blame.

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