Republicans would shoulder most of the blame if Congress and the White House can’t find a way to avert the fiscal cliff, according to a new poll.
Americans are skeptical that Washington can overcome its gridlock and strike a deal, according to a Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll. A majority of respondents said Obama and Congress would not be able to reach an agreement, and that notion was accompanied by widespread pessimism: Respondents said by a wide margin that a failure to prevent the fiscal cliff would negatively affect the economy and their personal finances.
And when asked who would be more responsible for the failure to find a compromise, respondents chose Republicans in Congress over President Obama by a 2-to-1 margin.
That carries an echo of last summer’s acrimonious battle over raising the debt ceiling, when resistance by conservative House Republicans helped torpedo a deal and saw Congress’ approval rating plunge to record lows.
The failure to resolve the debt ceiling standoff led directly to the current situation: The first round of $1.2 trillion in planned sequester cuts is set to kick in because a 12-member deficit reduction committee, created as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling, could not agree on a way to slim the deficit. The sequester cuts are scheduled to begin as President George W. Bush's tax cuts expire.
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This time around, President Obama is standing firm in his demand that higher taxes on the wealthy be part of a deal. House Republicans have rejected that approach and suggested a framework that raises $800 billion in tax revenue from unspecified sources. Conservative organizations have denounced that counteroffer, calling it a capitulation.