Poll: Public would blame GOP more than Obama if fiscal talks fail

A new poll finds the public views the looming “fiscal cliff” as a serious crisis for the nation and would blame Republicans more than President Obama if Washington fails to reach a deal. 

Forty-five percent surveyed in a new CNN/ORC poll said they would blame congressional Republicans if there is no agreement, with 34 percent pointing the finger at Obama. 

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Two-thirds say the U.S. would experience serious problems if the combination of tax rate increases and automatic spending cuts expected in January take effect.

One in four says the country would experience a crisis, with 44 percent expecting major problems if a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is not found. One in four says the fiscal cliff would cause minor problems, with 7 percent saying there would not be any consequences.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe their personal situation would be affected if the U.S. fell over the cliff. 

Democrats are insisting that any deal include raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans are opposed to raising tax rates, but more GOP lawmakers have signaled support for new revenues through closing loopholes and eliminating deductions. Republicans, though, insist that such measures be met by Democrats placing entitlement reform on the negotiating table. 

Lawmakers will return to Washington this week to begin talks on reaching a deficit-reduction package, with top lawmakers from both parties signaling a willingness to put more solutions on the negotiating table.

Seven in 10 Americans want lawmakers and the White House to compromise and reach an agreement, but two-thirds say they believe efforts will fall short. Twenty-eight percent say they expect Washington to behave like “responsible adults,” with 67 percent saying leaders will behave like “spoiled children.”

By a 52-44 split, Republicans surveyed in the poll said they favor a combination of spending cuts and tax increases over only spending cuts. 

Democrats surveyed overwhelmingly support both elements in a deal, with six of 10 independents wanting both cuts and tax increases. 

Fifty-six percent say taxes on the wealthy should be high, while 36 percent support low rates to help boost investment and job growth.

The CNN poll was conducted from Nov. 16-18 and has a 3-point margin of error.