Polls: Jobs, healthcare, budget deficit top concerns

The goal is to accelerate economic growth that isn't dependent on "either the government spending money it doesn’t have on their credit card, or families spending money they don't have on their credit cards, and instead create good-paying jobs that build toward the future."

In the NYT/CBS poll, 52 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy, while 41 percent approve. 

Overall, from a longer list of issues, 28 percent say job creation is the most important issue, the same as last month, while 23 percent say it is the economy, down from 32 percent last month, the poll showed. 

On job creation, 54 percent disapprove of how Obama is handling the situation, compared with 47 percent in December. Thirty-seven percent of those asked approve, compared with 38 percent last month. 

Although there is dissatisfaction with the speed of the nation's recovery, those in the NYT/CBS poll give Obama and congressional Republicans about even odds to chip away at the deficit and create jobs. 

In the poll, 44 percent said they trust congressional Republicans to make the right decisions in reducing the deficit, while 42 percent trust Obama.

When it comes to job creation, a major part of the rhetoric between the White House and congressional leaders as the unemployment rate remains above 9 percent, the results are the same — 44 percent saying they trust Republicans and Obama equally to create jobs. 

Broken down along party lines, Republicans and Democrats agreed that job creation should be the focus for Congress, with half of Democrats, 41 percent of independents and 35 percent of Republicans putting the issue first, the NYT/CBS poll said. 

Overall, 56 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling federal budget deficit, while 30 percent approve.

A large majority, 95 percent, are concerned about the deficit, with 70 percent saying the federal budget deficit is very serious and 25 percent saying it's just somewhat serious. Sixty-four percent say they are very concerned that the current budget deficits will create hardships for future generations.

The president's fiscal 2012 budget is expected to be released Feb. 14, and Jason Furman, deputy director of the White House's National Economic Council, said Friday he expects the budget to include an "even tougher set of choices when it comes to spending" and how tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more a year are only adding to the deficit, he said during a forum at the Georgetown Law Center. 

Meanwhile, House Republicans are pushing for spending cuts that would be considered along with a bill to increase the debt limit, although they are running behind on producing a rescissions package or other list of spending cuts. 

A majority (56 percent) in the NYT/CBS poll say it's necessary to take immediate action on the deficit, while 38 percent it's possible to wait for better economic times. 

But 56 percent say it's not necessary to raise taxes to lower the deficit, while 55 percent said they think it's necessary to cut government programs that could affect them, the NYT/CBS poll showed.

Overall, 62 percent said they prefer reducing spending to raising taxes and 55 percent would rather cut the military over entitlement programs, such as Medicare, to reduce the deficit. 

When asked about the state of the economy, only 24 percent said it was fairly good, while 46 percent said it's fairly bad and 28 percent characterized conditions as very bad. 

The poll also showed that 46 percent say economic conditions are staying the same, while 21 percent said the situation is getting worse. 30 percent said the economy is improving.

When it comes to the economic stimulus Congress cleared in February 2009, 29 percent say it helped, 21 percent say it didn't and 44 percent say it didn't have any effect on the economy. 

A majority (55 percent) say the stimulus had no effect the nation's job situation, while 15 percent say it made it worse and 26 percent say the job market improved.