Most Americans Prefer Government Shutdown Over New Spending: Poll

Only 34 percent of likely voters would prefer Congress to approve an authorization for more spending in order to avoid a government shutdown.

AP/Alex Brandon
The House majority whip, Tom Emmer of Minnesota, is tasked with rallying GOP members to maintain a unified front in the debt ceiling debate. AP/Alex Brandon

With a battle over the debt ceiling looming and both Democrats and Republicans digging in, a new poll suggests that most voters prefer a government shutdown over new spending.

The poll, conducted last week by the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports, found that 56 percent of likely voters “would rather have a partial government shutdown until Congress can agree to either cut spending or keep it the same.”

Thirty-four percent of likely voters would prefer Congress to approve an authorization for more spending in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Although federal funding isn’t set to run out until early this summer, the perennial debt ceiling fight and associated spending debate could mean that a shutdown is in the cards for later this year.

The speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, is demanding that federal spending be frozen at 2022 levels, a concession he made to holdouts from the party’s right flank during the speaker election. Democrats have balked at the demand.

While Democrats are in lock step about the demand for a “clean” raising of the debt ceiling — without obligations to cut spending, in other words — Republicans in Congress are not so united on the topic.

Mr. McCarthy has said that the GOP will not touch Medicare and Social Security, and President Trump has also told his party not to cut these two popular entitlement programs. It’s not clear, however, what exactly Republicans plan to cut in order to meet their budget goal. “I don’t think we’ve had a really good full-throated discussion and debate about what is politically doable,” the House majority leader, Steve Scalise, told Politico.

The new poll suggests that there may have been a shift in public opinion since earlier shutdowns, which were widely unpopular with voters. It may also suggest that government shutdowns are more popular before, rather than after, they actually happen.

A survey by Pew Research following the most recent government shutdown, between December 2018 and January 2019, found that nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — thought the shutdown was “a very serious problem.”

Opinions on how big of a problem also broke down along party lines, with 79 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying a shutdown was a “very serious problem” compared to 35 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

One ominous finding of polling from after the last shutdown is that a majority of Americans disapproved of the way both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and President Trump, handled the shutdown and negotiations.

A majority of Americans ended up blaming Mr. Trump and the Republicans in Congress for the shutdown after it was over.

The New York Sun

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