A majority of Americans would blame congressional Republicans if Washington fails to reach a deal in deficit talks to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” according to a new poll.
A Washington Post-Pew Research survey released Tuesday finds that 53 percent said they would blame Republicans, while 27 percent said President Obama would be at fault. Twelve percent said the blame should be divided equally between the two sides.
The survey represents added pressure for GOP lawmakers as they seek to rally public support amid the contentious negotiations.
If lawmakers and the president fail to agree on a deficit-reduction package, the nation will see the expiration of the lower Bush-era tax rates and massive automatic spending cuts go into effect in January.
Nearly half of Americans — 49 percent — say they don’t expect Congress and the White House to negotiate a deal before the new year, while 40 percent said they thought a deal would be reached.
On Monday, House Republican leaders made a counteroffer to the initial White House proposal, although the two sides remain far apart on taxes.
The GOP proposal, delivered to the White House on Monday, would reduce spending by $2.2 trillion through a combination of spending cuts and entitlement reforms, and would produce $800 billion in new revenue without raising tax rates. The Republican offer was in response to the White House’s offer last week, which proposed $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue through higher rates on wealthy Americans.
Democrats say any deal should raise rates on the wealthiest, with President Obama calling for extending the expiring Bush-era rates for all but the top 2 percent of income earners.
While Republicans agree on keeping middle-class tax rates low, they want to extend the Bush-era rates across the board, including for the wealthy. GOP leaders argue that any rate rise could hurt the economy and cost jobs.
Republicans want new revenues to come from closing loopholes and eliminating deductions and hope to extract concessions on spending cuts in the debate over tax rates.
The president, though, has made the tax rates a centerpiece of his messaging strategy, accusing Republicans of holding up middle-class tax relief to provide support for millionaires.
Republicans have countered by attempting to steer the debate to spending cuts, arguing that Democrats are failing to seriously address entitlement reforms and a tax code overhaul.
Both parties are continuing to jockey for support as the deadline for reaching a deal nears.
President Obama last week returned to the trail, speaking at a toy factory in Pennsylvania, where he said Republicans were leaving middle-class families a "lump of coal" for the holidays. Obama has also rallied his campaign supporters to pressure lawmakers to only extend middle-class tax rates and has met with business leaders and governors to explain his stance.
Boehner, though, also launching a public-relations blitz to counter Obama in the media. House GOP leaders are expected to sit down with small-business leaders this week to discuss the harm higher rates would have on job creation.
But the new poll will add pressure to Boehner, who is also feeling heat from some Tea Party groups that said his deficit offer “left conservatives wanting.”
“Conservatives are looking for a leader to fight against tax increases, to push back against wasteful government spending, and address the fiscal challenges in a bold way,” Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a group partially funded by the Koch brothers, said in a statement Monday.
The Washington Post poll was conducted from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.