U.S. voters trust President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies more than congressional Republicans to make “good faith” efforts to deal with pressing issues, including the deficit-reduction talks, according to a poll released today.
The poll also shows that, by a more than 2-1 margin, voters support Obama’s proposal to let tax cuts expire as scheduled for high earners. That’s a key sticking point in the current negotiations over cutting the deficit while averting more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to start in January -- the so-called fiscal cliff.
In the survey by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University, Obama’s approval mark surpasses 50 percent for the first time in more than 18 months, as 53 percent give him a favorable rating compared with 40 percent who disapprove of his job performance. Obama was in negative territory in July, with 45 percent approving his job as president and 49 percent disapproving.
“Nothing like winning an election to boost your job approval,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute.
The latest figures are Obama’s best showing in the poll since 52 percent approved of his job performance while 40 percent disapproved in May 2011, shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden in a raid the president authorized.
Asked to gauge Obama’s second term, which begins in January, 58 percent of voters said they are “optimistic” about the next four years while 38 percent are “pessimistic.”
By 56 percent to 38 percent, respondents said they believe Obama and congressional Democrats will make good faith efforts “to cooperate with the Republicans on issues” of importance. In contrast, 51 percent said Republicans won’t make such an effort and 43 percent said they will.
On avoiding the fiscal cliff, 53 percent said they have more trust in how Obama and congressional Democrats will handle the issue, compared with 36 percent who give the advantage to congressional Republicans.
“Voters see Republicans as more likely to be obstructionist and have less confidence in their ability to come up with the right solution to the nation’s financial woes,” Brown said.
The Quinnipiac poll was the second released this week giving the Democrats the upper hand in the fight over taxes and spending. A Pew Research Center/Washington Post survey taken Nov. 29-Dec. 2 found 53 percent of respondents planning to blame congressional Republicans if a solution isn’t reached, compared with 27 percent who would blame Obama.
On prospects for an accord, 48 percent in the Quinnipiac survey said they anticipate an agreement will be reached while 43 percent said they don’t.
Obama, backed by congressional Democrats, is pushing in the deficit-reduction talks to let tax rates paid by families with incomes exceeding $250,000 annually rise as scheduled in 2013. Supporting this position are 65 percent of voters in the latest poll, while 31 percent oppose it.
Two percent of taxpayers and 3 percent of small businesses would pay more if the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush expire for those earning more than $250,000 a year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based research group.
Congressional Republicans oppose the higher tax rates, proposing instead to increase government revenue through limiting deductions.
The poll also shows 51 percent oppose raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 from 65 as part of a deficit- reduction deal and 44 percent favor such a move.
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