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Poll Says Republicans Get More Blame if Budget Talks Fail

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- More Americans would blame congressional Republicans than President Barack Obama if talks to avoid automatic tax hikes and spending cuts break down, according to a poll released today.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey also showed that more than three-fourths of respondents -- 76 percent -- would accept as part of a deal taxes increasing as scheduled on families with annual incomes exceeding $250,000, the position Obama has staked out. Additionally, twice as many people said they trusted Obama over U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, in the talks on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.

The poll is the most recent to give Obama an advantage over congressional Republicans in the debate on averting more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending reductions scheduled to take effect in January. Quinnipiac University and the Pew Research Center/Washington Post polls also showed the public siding more with Obama.

Obama wants the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers to expire as planned, which Boehner and fellow Republicans oppose while pushing for cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs.

If the White House and Congress fail to make a deal, 24 percent said in the new poll that they would blame congressional Republicans, while 19 percent would blame Obama. A majority, 56 percent, said both sides would be responsible.

Trust Question

Respondents said they trusted Obama over Boehner on the fiscal cliff negotiations, 38 percent to 19 percent. Another 14 percent said they trusted both equally, while 29 percent trusted neither.

The poll showed that 68 percent view the fiscal cliff as a serious problem and that respondents are deadlocked -- at 48 percent each -- on whether they think an agreement would be reached. Favoring the push for a deal are 65 percent, compared with 28 percent who said both parties should stick to their positions.

Obama’s job approval rating of 53 percent is the highest he’s gotten in the poll since January 2011

The survey of 1,000 adults was taken Dec. 6-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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