Poll: Majority say debt ceiling should be separated from spending cuts

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On Monday, Obama insisted at a White House press conference that he would not negotiate with Republicans over threats not to raise the debt ceiling — while simultaneously saying he would continue to push for a broad deficit-reduction package.

"While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficit, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they’ve already racked up,” Obama said. “To even entertain the idea of this happening, of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd.”

The Post/ABC poll showed a plurality of Americans trust Obama more to handle the issue, with 49 percent favoring the president on the issue. By contrast, just 35 percent say they trust congressional Republicans more.

Generally, Obama is enjoying a post-election high, including some of his highest approval ratings in years. According to the survey, 55 percent approve of the president's handling of his job, while half say they approve specifically of the way he his handling the economy. Some 53 percent say they are optimistic about the policies Obama will pursue in his second term, more than six in 10 call him a strong leader and 55 percent say he understands the problems of people like them.

By contrast, just 24 percent approve of the way congressional Republicans are doing their job, and two-thirds say that the House GOP is doing too little to compromise with the president on important issues.

Of course, a plurality — 48 percent — say the same of Obama. And despite general optimism regarding the president, a persistent 57 percent continue to believe the country is headed on the wrong track.