By Justin Sink
More than two-thirds of Americans remain skeptical that President Obama and lawmakers will strike a budget deal before the mid-January deadline to avert another shutdown, despite signs that leaders on Capitol Hill are nearing a compromise agreement.
According to the survey released Monday by McClatchy, some 68 percent of those surveyed say they are pessimistic that lawmakers would strike a deal.
On Sunday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told ABC News "negotiations are making progress, moving in the right direction."
The emerging deal, being bargained by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would likely replace between $60 and $85 billion in short-term sequester cuts with entitlement cuts, airline fees, postal and farm reforms, and reduced retirement benefits for federal employees.
Many of those proposals are popular with voters, according to the McClatchy poll.
A majority — 52 percent — of those surveys said that Congress should work to avert a second round of sequester cuts, with 41 percent saying that lawmakers should allow them to go forward.
But voters were reluctant to cut programs like ObamaCare, Medicare and the Pentagon budget. Indeed, the only proposal surveyed that garnered majority support was cutting federal worker pay, something that 55 percent backed.
A plurality — 38 percent — of voters said reducing the budget deficit with a mixture of increased revenue and cuts to federal spending was preferable. That slightly edged out those who simply prefer increased revenue through taxes and fees, and trounced the 16 percent who said there should only be more cuts to federal spending.
Pessimism about Washington’s ability to strike a budget deal bleeds into how Americans feel about their own financial futures.
Some 56 percent of those surveyed say that the worse is yet to come for the U.S. economy, despite steadily rising stock prices and declining unemployment rates. Just 42 percent say the worst is behind them.
Moreover, just a quarter of those surveyed say they’ll be better off economically next year. A plurality — 43 percent — say they’ll be about the same, while just under a third expect their fortunes to be worse.