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New poll shows risks in Obama’s debt play

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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NEW POLL SHOWS RISKS IN OBAMA’S DEBT PLAY - Democrats are continuing a full-scale assault today aimed at getting Republicans to unconditionally increase the federal government’s borrowing limit. House and Senate Democrats are trying to force votes on a debt lift without any offsetting cuts or changes. But a Fox News poll out this morning finds 58 percent of respondents would vote against raising the government’s debt limit if they were in Congress, while just 37 percent would vote for it. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans, 88 percent of members of the tea party movement, 57 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats would vote against raising the debt ceiling.  Sixty-two percent of all respondents, including a plurality of Democrats, said they would favor a debt-ceiling increase only if tied to major cuts in government spending. Only 27 percent of those surveyed said the limit should be raised unconditionally, as President Obama has demanded.

[Voters like the spending caps, known as “sequestration,” imposed by the previous debt-limit deal in 2011. Forty-eight percent in the latest Fox News poll approved, compared to 39 percent who disapproved.]

Remember when? - There’s a reason that Democrats so vocally opposed raising the debt limit during the Bush administration: It is very good politics. The blue team may have flip-flopped on the subject since then-Sen. Barack Obama denounced an increase sought by a Republican president in 2006 as “a failure of leadership,” but that doesn’t mean that moderate voters have come to agree. Democrats are feeling the squeeze as Republicans challenge a Senate blockade of smaller spending bills to reopen popular programs during the ongoing partial government shutdown, and are trying to return fire with a procedural gambit to force a House vote on hiking the debt. But if voters don’t agree, where is the pressure? If there is a debt disaster, it might get Republicans on the record ahead of time, but that’s slim solace for vulnerable Democrats who would have to cast another painful vote for more borrowing without any preconditions. 

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Chris Stirewalt

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