Poll: Majority concerned about congressional inaction on fiscal issues

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told lawmakers Wednesday that Congress needs to act by Oct. 17 to ensure the nation avoids default. 

Nearly nine in 10 voters (88 percent) who were polled say that Congress has not yet come to agreement on a new federal budget because they are putting politics ahead of a solution.

And many remain highly skeptical that lawmakers can reach a deal this fall. 

In fact, only 39 percent said they are optimistic that Democrats and Republicans will reach an agreement on the debt limit.

Beyond implications for the broader economic recovery, many voters worry that they will be personally affected. 

Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) say they are concerned that their financial situation will worsen as a result of congressional inaction.

"Americans understand that failure to act on critical fiscal issues will have real economic consequences — both for the country, and for their personal financial situation," said Michael Peterson, president and chief operating officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 

"Rather than risk harming our recovering economy by governing crisis-to-crisis, policymakers should come together on a comprehensive, bipartisan fiscal plan that stabilizes the debt for the long-term."

Overall, 84 percent of voters agree that policymakers can help today’s economy by agreeing on a comprehensive plan to put our long-term debt on a sustainable downward path.

The Senate could vote as early as Friday on a bill to keep the government running beyond Oct. 1. But there are still plenty of balls up in the air on when the Senate will complete work on their bill and whether the House would make any changes to the upper chamber's measure. 

Other results of the poll include: 

• 93 percent agree that Congress must reach a long-term plan to deal with the national debt instead of relying on short-term fixes in times of crisis.

• Regardless of party (83 percent of Democrats/84 percent of independents/91 percent of Republicans), voters strongly believe that the fiscal policymaking process in Washington is broken, and partisanship and politics are primarily to blame.

The nationwide poll conducted by by the Global Strategy Group included 1,003 registered voters surveyed by telephone between Sept. 17-19.