Slim majority support undoing sequester cuts, poll says

A new McClatchy-Marist poll found that voters approve of Congress raising certain fees to undo spending cuts mandated by the sequester by a slim margin, one potential component of a deal being brokered to set the 2014 federal budget.

Support for this approach follows party lines, with the backing of two-thirds of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and just 38 percent of Republicans. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said the sequester had a negative effect on the economy, while 15 percent said it had a positive effect and 42 percent said it had no effect at all. Two-thirds, 63 percent, said it had not affected them personally.

Budget Committee leaders Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are working on a deal that would undo the mandatory cuts by replacing the money that would have been saved by some increases fees. News reports indicate the group negotiating the deal is considering raising revenue by asking federal workers to contribute more to their retirement.

A majority of poll respondents, 55 percent, said they would support cuts in federal pay and benefits.

Even though it appears the budget deal could have broad support among the public, 68 percent said they do not believe Congress and President Obama will reach a budget deal before funding for the federal government runs out again in mid-January.

There is far less support for reforming entitlements in away that cuts Medicare spending – that was opposed by four out of five people – and more than 50 percent said there shouldn’t be any cuts to defense spending. Support for slashing funds to the Affordable Care Act were split on party lines.

Just 16 percent said that entitlement cuts should be made to deal with the deficit, and more than one-third said that should be done by collecting more revenue with strategies like limiting tax deductions on higher income. Thirty-eight percent said both approaches should be used.

In all, Republicans got better marks on their ability to handle the economy: 47 percent thought their approach was the best; 42 percent said Mr. Obama’s was better.

Predictions about the economy remain grim, with more than half of respondents – 56 percent – saying the worst was yet to come. More than 60 percent of Democrats think the worst has passed, but three-quarters of Republicans say conditions are worsening.

This survey interviewed 1,173 adults by line and cellular telephone between Dec. 3-5, including 988 registered voters. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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