Polls: A mixed picture on debt

Liberal pundits — including by colleague Greg Sargent — find justification for the president’s insistence on tax hikes in a series of public polls showing that Americans favor both tax hikes and spending cuts to address our debt problem.

But that is only one data point among many. Consider three others.

First, the president’s approval rating has been skidding. The RealClearPolitics average approval rating is down to 46.2 and his disapproval is up to 48.2. That 2 percent gap is as wide as it has been since April.

Second, the public by a huge margin favors a constitutional balanced budget amendment opposed by the White House and congressional Democrats. The Daily Caller reports:

According to a recent Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller, a large majority of the public backs an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget, a reform some lawmakers say is on the table in the debt ceiling debate.

65 percent of the public supports the amendment with 27 percent opposed; 8 percent are undecided.

81 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents support the amendment. Even a plurality of Democrats, the party that typically resists spending cuts, back the amendment by a 45 percent to 44 percent margin.

That matches other polling on the balanced budget amendment.

And then there is the new Gallup poll (h/t Hot Air), which finds:

Americans continue to express a strong desire that any agreement that is reached include plans for major cuts in future spending. Americans now by a 20-point margin -- 55% vs. 35% -- say they worry more that the government would raise the debt ceiling without plans for major spending cuts, than that the government would not raise the ceiling and an economic crisis would ensue.

So if we look at the debt ceiling debate as a proxy for the bigger issue — how much government do you want — it seems that the Republicans have the upper hand. Put differently, Obama’s refusal to back the balanced budget amendment and disinclination to put forth scored, significant spending cuts is a political loser.

A final note: It is not merely Republicans who favor holding the line on taxes. Why do we think the Senate Democrats never put forth their own budget? They have a batch of members up for re-election in red states. These senators certainly don’t want to be on record for a tax hike. And hence, in their minds, it is better to do nothing than reveal that sentiment in their ranks.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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