Poll: Americans think debt deal will make economy worse, not better

A new poll shows that more Americans think the debt-reduction compromise passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday will make the economy worse, not better.

The USA Today/Gallup Poll, which was taken shortly after Obama signed the debt-limit agreement Tuesday, shows that 41 percent of Americans think the deal will make the economy worse, while 17 percent believe it will make the economy better. About a third of respondents believed the deal would have no effect.

Asked whether they approve of the overall deal, which would raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2011 and achieve more than $2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, only 39 percent of respondents said they backed the agreement; 46 percent disapproved.

It’s not clear from the poll whether those who disapproved of the plan did so because they thought it cut too much or too little. But the fact that a plurality of Americans believes the deal will do more harm than good to the economy suggests that as the debt battle enters its second round, congressional Republicans – who led the charge for spending cuts to be included in any debt-limit deal – have their work cut out for them in convincing the public that such cuts will boost the economy.

Approval of the debt deal was highest among Democrats, 58 percent of whom said they backed the compromise. Twenty-six percent of Republicans said they supported the deal, and only 22 percent of tea party supporters said they approved.

That more Democrats than Republicans would approve comes as something of a surprise considering that congressional Democrats and the White House initially backed only a “clean” raising of the debt ceiling without any spending cuts attached – and that House Democrats were split 50-50 on the measure. Meanwhile, Republicans on Capitol Hill have touted the deal as a major success by their party in changing the focus of the debate in Washington from spending to cutting.

The poll surveyed 1,012 adults and had a margin of error of four percentage points.

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