Poll: Voters link economic health with nation's debt level

An overwhelming majority of voters link the health of the nation’s economy with the amount of national debt, according to a poll released Monday.

All told, 91 percent of respondents say that a stable fiscal situation will help boost economic growth and suggest that policymakers turn their attention to tackling long-term debt issues, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation showed Monday in a new survey.


“Americans understand that a strong fiscal outlook is an essential foundation for a growing, thriving economy,” said Michael Peterson, president and chief operating officer.

“Voters know that fiscal health and economic strength are inextricably linked, and they’re calling on their leaders to address our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges in order to secure America’s economic future."

Improving the nation's debt picture also would boost consumer confidence — 88 percent said consumers would have a brighter outlook if the country held less debt.

Although the nation's deficit has been falling, the debt has continued to rise, leading 87 percent say that the national debt is stifling the economy.

In addition, the poll showed that 83 percent of voters say that the current level of national debt makes the economy less stable.

A majority, 86 percent, say that the United States will likely be better prepared for the next economic or financial crisis if the debt is reduced.

With President Obama and Democrats pressing for an increase in the minimum wage, among other policies they say will narrow the income gap, 80 percent of those asked said that reducing the $17 trillion debt will help improve economic mobility.

Business groups have complained that Washington’s glacial pace on sorting out economic issues has been the major hurdle to greater economic growth and hiring.

The poll showed that 70 percent of voters believe reducing the debt would increase companies’ confidence in the economy, leading to more investment and hiring of new workers.

With the expansion of global trade topping the Obama administration’s agenda, the poll showed that 84 percent believe that the United States is likely to be more competitive in a global economy if it reduces the debt.

As the Senate takes up a new transportation bill this week, there is concern about the amount of money that can be spend on infrastructure projects.

Three-quarters of Americans say that the nation will have less money to spend on education, research and infrastructure as a result of its debt burden. 

Other findings of the poll include: 

• 85 percent agree that debt reduction will benefit the national economy, including broad majorities of Democrats (75 percent), independents (90 percent) and Republicans (90 percent). 

• 83 percent say there will be more opportunities for an economy less burdened by the national debt. Voters are united across socioeconomic lines, with the working/lower middle class at 82 percent, the middle class at 86 percent and the upper middle class/affluent at 76 percent

• Voters widely agree that younger people (82 percent), the middle class (82 percent), lower-income workers (70 percent) and the unemployed (73 percent) will benefit from addressing debt issues.

• 86 percent of voters expect that the stability brought on by sound fiscal policy will be felt directly by American families, with broad majorities believing that a more stable fiscal foundation will lead to a more stable and secure middle class. 

The nationwide survey of 1,004 registered voters was conducted between April 21- 24.