National debt top concern of voters heading into 2015

A majority of voters say the nation's long-term debt should be the top concern for lawmakers heading into 2015.

A new index released on Tuesday shows that 80 percent agree that the more than $17 trillion national debt should be one of the top three priorities for President Obama and Congress next year, including 60 percent who agree strongly, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation said as part of its December fiscal confidence index on Tuesday.

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"Despite the recent improvement in short-term deficits, Americans fully understand that our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges remain,” said Michael Peterson, president and chief operating officer of the Peterson Foundation.

"As Washington gets to work in January, Americans expect their leaders to stabilize the debt in order to lay the fiscal foundation necessary for a growing and prosperous economy, now and in the future," he said.

Majorities across the political spectrum agree on the urgency of the problem: 69 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of independents and 90 percent of Republicans want the debt to remain a top-three issue in Washington.

The confidence index, a monthly measure of public attitudes about the nation’s debt and the efforts of lawmakers to address fiscal challenges, was 43 this month, down from 44 in November.

A reading above 100 reflect positive sentiment.

Fiscal confidence has ranged between 41 and 49 over the past year.