Majority of Americans Don't Understand the Debt-Ceiling

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A short time ago, Opposing Views published an article explaining what exactly raising the debt-ceiling means and that it is completely separate from government spending which is handled via appropriations bills. Yet, as the October 17 default deadline approaches, a poll from United Technologies and the National Journal Congressional Connection shows that the majority of Americans still don’t understand the issue.  

According to the poll, 62 percent of Americans believe lifting the debt-limit precipitates more borrowing “for future expenditures” rather than “paying off the debts” the government already has. This misconception is held by many different demographics, including “the young and the elderly, the rich and the poor, the college educated and those with only high schools[sic] education.”

It might be unsurprising to learn that 73 percent of Republicans believe that the raising the debt-limit is for future spending, 53 percent of Democrats thought the same. Also, 62 percent of independents also are confused about the meaning of raising the debt-ceiling. Still, despite being unclear about what raising the debt-limit means, only a majority of Republicans believe that no “major economic problems” would result from a US default.

The poll also examines how Americans are dividing up the blame for both the shutdown and the looming debt-ceiling deadline. President Obama won “[a] narrow plurality of Americans, 45 percent,” trusts him more than Congressional Republicans. President Obama led “urban-dwellers,” women, and the young. The demographic that trusts him the least is white men without college educations, only 35 percent of whom believe not raising the debt-ceiling would negatively affect the economy.

According to The Washington Post, the Senate discussions – the only hope for a deal – have “slowed to a crawl” while they await the reaction of the stock market to see if market reaction drives one side or another towards compromise.