Poll: Americans think elected reps behaved like ‘spoiled children’ in debt ceiling negotiations

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

A majority of Americans believe their elected officials in Washington behaved like spoiled children in the waning days of debt ceiling negotiations, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday.

Asked whether their representatives behaved more like responsible adults or spoiled children over the last few, chaotic days, 77 percent of the public said they had behaved more like spoiled children.

Republican leaders in Congress take the most heat, with 68 percent saying they disapprove of the way they handled negotiations. Democratic leaders in Congress are close behind with 63 percent disapproving of their behavior. Congress’s overall approval rating has plummeted, with just 14 percent saying they approve of the job their representatives are doing.

Obama does slightly better, with 53 percent disapproving of his handling of the debt ceiling negotiations and 46 percent approving. Thus far, the past two weeks of negotiations do not seem to have had a negative impact on the president’s overall approval rating, at least according to CNN’s polling.

CNN found his approval remaining steady at 45 percent since the last survey conducted two weeks ago. However, Gallup found that the president’s approval rating dropped to the lowest point in his presidency on Friday, and Obama also clocked his lowest weekly approval on Gallup’s tracker last week.

According to CNN, Republicans in Congress get the most credit from the American people for the agreement, with 43 percent saying they are the ones responsible, 34 percent naming Obama, and 18 percent saying that both parties were equally responsible.

That’s not necessarily a good thing for the GOP, since a majority of the public say they disapprove of the results that sandbox fight. Fifty-two percent said that they disapproved of the agreement passed by the House on Monday and expected to be passed by the Senate on Tuesday. Forty-four percent said they approved of the deal.

Independents, in particular, are sour on the bill, and on the idea of raising the debt ceiling in general. Sixty-two percent said they disapproved of the agreement reached, and 61 percent said they disapproved of raising the debt ceiling regardless of what the agreement was. Their views are in line with Republicans, while a majority of Democrats approve of both the agreement and raising the debt ceiling.

Overall, Americans are fairly evenly split on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, with 51 percent disapproving and 48 percent approving. The split suggests a fairly high amount of support for the idea that government should be forced to take its medicine and stop spending.

However, there is a fair amount of concern about the negative effects not raising the debt ceiling could have on the economy: Fifty-two percent of the public believes that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause major problems or a crisis, and 31 percent believe it would cause at least minor problems. Just 15 percent say it would cause no problems at all. And 49 percent believe the deal would be good for the economy, while just 42 percent believe it will be bad.

Looking specifically at the deal, the public approves of the cuts in future government spending, but a 60 percent majority believe that the omission of a tax increase on wealthier Americans and businesses is problematic. Sixty-five percent approve of the spending cuts, with those who disapprove split evenly among people who think the cuts go too far and people who think they do not go far enough.

The CNN/ORC poll interviewed 860 American adults by telephone on August 1, the day after the debt ceiling plan was introduced. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.