Americans are split on whether Congress should vote to raise the debt ceiling as the clock is ticking on a possible default that could come this summer if the limit is not risen, according to a new poll.
An NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll released Thursday found 52 percent of registered voters support raising the debt ceiling, while 46 percent oppose it. The amount that support it is a significant increase from the 24 percent who supported doing so in 2011, which was the last time Congress faced a confrontation over the debt limit.
Support for raising the debt ceiling also saw an increase from a decade ago across the political spectrum, rising among Democrats from 36 precent to 79 percent, among independents from 22 percent to 47 percent and among Republicans from 16 percent to 26 percent.
Raising the debt ceiling will not allow the federal government to spend more money, but will the government pay back debt for expenses it has already taken on.
The Treasury Department started resorting to “extraordinary measures” last month to avoid the U.S. defaulting on its national debt. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last week that the measures could be exhausted sometime between July and September if Congress does not raise the ceiling.
A face-off in Congress could happen over the next few months as many Republicans are demanding spending cuts in exchange for voting to raise the debt limit. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said any cuts to Social Security or Medicare are “off the table,” but cuts to any other program are up for consideration.
President Biden has called on Congress to pass a “clean” bill to raise the ceiling without any conditions of spending cuts and to address any cuts separately — which McCarthy has so far rejected.
Pollsters also found a plurality of Americans blame both Democrats and Republicans equally for the amount of debt the country has incurred, while 29 percent blame Democrats more and 24 percent blame Republicans more. The national debt stands at $31.4 trillion.
In terms of addressing policy amid a divided Congress, respondents overwhelmingly support members of the two parties working together to find compromise. Seven in 10 said politicians should compromise to find solutions, while only 28 percent said they should stand on principle.
Respondents were closely divided over whether Congress should focus on cutting programs and services to reduce the debt or increasing government revenue through taxes and fees, with 50 percent saying the former and 47 percent saying the latter.
The poll was conducted from Feb. 13-16 among 1,352 registered voters. The margin of error was 3.3 points.