Nearly half of Americans would blame Republicans if the nation's leaders allow automatic spending cuts to take place March 1, according to a new poll released Friday.
The survey of 1,504 adults by the Pew Research Center and USA Today
also found that 49 percent of those surveyed believe it would be better to delay the cuts, known as the budget sequester, instead of letting them take effect, while 40 percent said the country would be better off if they are allowed to proceed.
Forty-nine percent, meanwhile, said they would blame Republicans for the job losses and other pains that could result from the sequester, compared to 31 percent who said the blame would lie with President Barack Obama.
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Overall, however, most of the survey participants, 76 percent, said the president and Congress should put aside their differences to negotiate a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the deficit and head off the sequester. And in a bit of bad news for Republicans, who have refused so far to budge on more tax revenues, only 19 percent said they agree with the GOP position.
Still, Republicans can probably take some reassurance from the fact that 70 percent of survey participants said it was essential that Congress pass major legislation to help reduce the federal deficit.
The deficit was far more important to those polled than some of Obama's other priorities. For example, 51 percent said immigration reform is essential, 46 percent said they view more gun control laws as important, and 34 percent said climate-change policies are essential.
In gauging the president's overall job approval rating, the Pew/USA Today poll disagreed with a Bloomberg survey released Tuesday that put his job performance rating at 55 percent, the highest since 2009. The newer poll put his approval rating at 51 percent, down slightly from a post-election high of 55 percent.
But that was still way above the approval rating for Republican congressional leaders, which the survey put at 25 percent. Democratic leaders scored better, with an approval rating of 37 percent.
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