Will there be a deal? Will the U.S. default if there isn't one? Who to trust in Washington? And what do the people say?
America is slated to default on its debt on Aug. 2 unless Congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling, and Republicans and Democrats are having trouble agreeing on a deal to forestall that outcome. Everyone seems to agree that, in a perfect world, we'd cut some spending. Nobody likes the trillion-dollar deficits incurred in each of the last two years. Beyond that, there seems to be little agreement. President Obama and Congress could decide to:
- raise the debt limit, no strings attached, as the White House called for in April
- lower the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years, including about $1 trillion in revenue raised by tightening the corporate tax code and raising taxes on higher incomes, as Obama called for recently
- cut about $2 trillion, without raising taxes on anyone, as House Speaker John Boehner proposed two weeks ago
- let Obama raise the debt ceiling without Congress's approval, but create a deficit-reduction commission to propose a package of cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell favor this plan.
- lower the deficit by $3.7 trillion, including $1 trillion in added tax revenue from corporations. This is the "Gang of Six" plan unveiled this week by a bipartisan group of senators
- punt, raising the debt limit temporarily and ensuring that the debate continues
Different sides have very different opinions. House Democrats insist Social Security and Medicare benefits are untouchable, but Obama is open to cuts. House Republicans insist there be no raising taxes of any sort.
So, what does the public think about all this? Below, a look at the last four major polls on the matter, all released in the last week, from CBS, ABC/Washington Post, USA Today/Gallup, and the Pew Research Center: