New study: Budget deficit jumps in concern as COVID worries decline

The Senate side of the Capitol is seen in Washington, early Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, as lawmakers rush to complete passage of a bill to fund the government before a midnight Friday deadline, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

More Americans say they’re concerned about the nation’s budget deficit, new polling shows, as the ongoing battle over the debt limit continues to dominate attention on Capitol Hill.

Survey results released by the Pew Research Center on Monday showed 57 percent of respondents see reducing the budget deficit as a top priority for the president and Congress this year — up 12 percent from last year. 

A closer look at the numbers revealed some partisan lines on the matter, with 71 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents saying they saw the issue as a top priority, compared to 44 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents who said the same.

At the same time, fewer Americans say they see tackling the coronavirus outbreak as a top priority, with roughly a fourth of respondents calling the issue a top priority. The number, Pew notes, is a sharp contrast from recent years, when the nation also spent billions in coronavirus aid as it grappled with the pandemic.   

The results come as Congress feuds over how to address the nation’s borrowing limit, weeks after it crossed the roughly $31.4 trillion threshold lawmakers set more than a year ago. 

The Treasury Department said last month that it resorted to what it called “extraordinary measures” to temporarily prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt, buying Congress until at least June to raise the limit, which caps how much debt the government can take on to fulfill its financial obligations.

Democrats have insisted that Congress move quickly to raise the limit without conditions while raising alarm over the chances of a first-ever default, an outcome economists warn could be catastrophic for the nation’s economy. 

However, Republicans have pressed for significant fiscal reform to be attached to any increase of the debt limit, with some proposing steep cuts in nondefense spending that have already been met with resistance from Democrats.

Republicans have also battled amongst themselves about areas in which to cut spending, particularly in areas like defense funding.

Tags Budget debt ceiling deficit

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