Americans Prefer Compromisers Who Will Avoid "Fiscal Cliff"

July 18, 2012, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 7/14/2012) Leaders from both political parties have recently begun to voice their views about how (or whether) the country should avoid falling off the proverbial "fiscal cliff" — the automatic tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts that would be triggered at the beginning of next year unless Congress acts to undo them. The latest Economist/YouGov poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that their representatives in Congress should compromise to reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff soon, though a hefty percentage would prefer representatives who stick to their principles instead.

Independents (69%) and Democrats (66%) prefer a representative with a penchant for compromise on this issue at higher rates than Republicans (53%). Tea Party followers are far more likely to support politicians who stand on principle than Republicans in general, with only 30% preferring a representative with a willingness to compromise.

When asked about one of the biggest sticking-points in the impending debate (whether taxes should be raised on families with an income of greater than $250,000 a year), a majority of Americans side with Democratic politicians. 57% percent of respondents to the latest poll support raising taxes on the rich, while only 28% oppose it. Democrats overwhelmingly support raising taxes on the wealthy (87%-56%) while most independents do as well (53%-33%). Republicans, however, are opposed to these potential tax increases (30%-56%).

But while the public supports raising taxes on the wealthy, it has not accepted the notion that solving the country’s fiscal problems will require some sacrifice on the part of middle-class Americans. For example, a majority of Americans believes the federal budget can be balanced without raising taxes on those earning under $250,000 as well as without cutting spending on Social Security and Medicare.

Democrats are somewhat more likely than Republicans to state that tax increases on the middle class will be required to balance the budget. But Democrats, Republicans, and independents show nearly equal levels of support for the view that Medicare and Social Security need not be altered in order to fix the country’s budget.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association