Poll: Most say lawmakers behaved like ‘spoiled children’ in debt fight

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 12:53 EDT
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Following a political battle that literally threatened to topple the global financial system, most Americans say their representatives in Congress behaved like “spoiled children” in coming to a deal on U.S. debt, with congressional Republicans coming out looking the worst overall.

New poll figures from CNN (PDF) found that 77 percent said lawmakers acted like “spoiled children,” with just 17 percent saying the negotiations were handled by “responsible adults.”

Overall, the American people appeared largely confused about what might happen if the U.S. debt ceiling weren’t raised, with just 52 percent saying it would cause either a “crisis” (14 percent) or “major problems” (38 percent).

In reality, the cascading waves of debt that would have erupted from a U.S. default would ripple across the global economy, driving up interest rates and potentially halting many imports and exports, while payments from programs like Social Security and the Veterans Administration would stop until government coffers were full again.

Officials with the U.S. Treasury warned that the resulting blow to the U.S. economy would be catastrophic, likely triggering another financial crisis and sparking an even deeper recession, or worse.

The poll also found that Americans largely (43 percent) blame Republicans for the debt ceiling crisis, with just 34 percent placing responsibility on Democrats.

Overall, President Barack Obama’s performance in the negotiations drew a 53 percent negative rating, while congressional Republicans were at 68 percent negative, followed by congressional Democrats at 63 percent negative.

Majorities also said that neither party gave up too much in the talks, although House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he got “98 percent” of everything he wanted in the talks, whereas Democrats did not manage to obtain any revenue increases.

As for the revenue increases, 60 percent said they disapproved of the deal not raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, a cornerstone of the president’s fiscal agenda.

Image credit: Flickr commons.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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