With less than two weeks to go before the nation goes over the fiscal cliff, the public remains pessimistic about the possibility that the president and Congress will reach an agreement by the Jan. 1 deadline.
The Democrats are in a strong position with the public as they engage in negotiations to find a solution to the fiscal cliff crisis.
With Washington making little apparent progress in efforts to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff,” most Americans are skeptical that the White House and Republicans will reach a deal. A majority would blame Republicans if talks fail.
The public is skeptical that President Obama and congressional Republicans will reach an agreement by the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff. About half say the two sides will not reach an agreement, while just 38% say they will.
Among a dozen specific options for reducing the debt and deficit, only two win majority approval from the public – raising taxes on annual incomes over $250,000 and limiting corporate tax deductions.
A proposal to shift Medicare to a voucher system, part of a Paul Ryan plan approved by the House last year, remains unpopular. Both Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden get negative marks as vice presidential candidates.
Older Americans are warier of changes to Medicare than are younger people. They are more positive about the way the program operates, less apt to think that changes are needed and far less disposed towards Paul Ryan’s proposal to reshape Medicare.
By two-to-one (44% to 22%), the public says that raising taxes on incomes above $250,000 would help the economy rather than hurt it, while 24% say this would not make a difference. Moreover, an identical percentage (44%) says a tax increase on higher incomes would make the tax system more fair, while just 21% say it would make the system less fair.
Republicans are more engaged than Democrats in contrast to 2008 when it comes to focusing on this year's presidential campaign and saying it really matters who wins. But Democrats are more enthusiastic about Barack Obama than Republicans are about Mitt Romney.
Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut writes that there has never been an issue such as the deficit on which there has been such a consensus among the public about its importance -- and such a lack of agreement about acceptable solutions.