Senate Democrats are on the warpath against the House-passed Cut, Cap and Balance Act. They have taken to calling it the “Cut, Cap, and Kill Medicare Act.” At a press conference on Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) aptly summed up the left’s characterizations of the legislation, calling it “cruel, dangerous, and stupid.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday called it “some of the worst legislation in the history of this country.”
But a CNN poll released Thursday shows that two-thirds of Americans support the system established by the CCB Act. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they approved of a plan under which “Congress would raise the debt ceiling only if a balanced budget amendment were passed by both houses of Congress and substantial spending cuts and caps on future spending were approved.” Sixty-three percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents said they would approve of such a plan.
The CCB Act does just that: It caps spending at 19.9 percent of GDP (not at 18 percent, as some, including numerous senators, have claimed), cuts $111 billion out of the fiscal 2012 budget, and requires a balanced budget amendment before Congress can raise the debt ceiling.
An almost identical number of respondents (65 percent) said they were opposed to the “Gang of Six” plan floated by a group comprised of three senators from each party. Only 34 percent said they supported it. The plan has come under fire from a host of conservatives, including the Heritage Foundation’s David Addington. Opposition to the Gang of Six plan also transcends party lines, according to the CNN poll: 60 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Independents, and 70 percent of Republicans oppose the plan.
Unlike the CCB Act, the Gang of Six plan does not include a balanced budget amendment, which, according to this survey, Americans overwhelmingly support. A full 74 percent of respondents said they support a BBA. Sixty percent said one would be necessary to control federal spending.
The poll’s findings were not uniformly supportive of the conservative case, however. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they would favor a deficit-reduction plan that includes both spending cuts and tax increases to one consisting only of the latter. Only 34 percent said such a deal should include only spending cuts.
Respondents also said that they thought President Obama had conducted himself more responsibly in the debt ceiling debate than congressional Republicans. They also said they’d be more likely to blame the GOP than the president for a failure to raise the debt limit.
Still, there is broad agreement that the debt must be reduced. In fact, 45 percent of respondents, a plurality, said that the debt ceiling should only be raised if the president and Congress come up with a deal to slash trillions from the national debt. Thirty-six percent said they oppose raising the debt limit at all. Only 17 percent said that the debt ceiling should be raised even if no plan to reduce the national debt emerges.