Majority of Americans Say Congress Shouldn’t Raise the Debt Ceiling

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
June 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm ET

While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been telling lawmakers about the impending need to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll suggests voters may need some more convincing as well.

A Morning Consult/POLITICO survey found that 57 percent of Americans said Congress should not raise the debt limit – a move the Treasury Department says would cause “catastrophic economic consequences.”

Republican opposition is particularly strong, with 64 percent of GOP voters saying they oppose raising the debt limit. But they are not alone: Forty-nine percent of Democrats also oppose the move.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday linked the debt limit to the push by congressional Republicans to lower taxes, threatening to leverage Democratic support for the debt limit increase to blocking parts of tax reform they do not like.

“If they’re going to put on the table a massive tax cut for the very wealthy that increases the deficit by trillions, it is harder to get Democrats to increase the debt ceiling,” the New York Democrat told reporters.

The debt limit is the total amount of money the federal government is authorized to borrow. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending, but instead allows the government to pay bills it has already incurred.

In an interview Tuesday with CNBC, Mnuchin said the Treasury Department has “plans to fund the government through September.” He also reiterated his call for Congress to act on the debt limit before the August recess.

Support for increasing the debt limit is low among the electorate. Two in 10 voters said they think Congress should raise it, including 25 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of Republicans.

Support is higher among people who say their annual income exceeds $100,000 a year, with backing coming from 30 percent of that group. Still, 53 percent of high-earners opposed raising the limit.

A similar level of support was seen among government workers, whose paychecks come from the U.S. Treasury. Thirty-one percent said they support raising the debt limit, while 54 percent said they oppose it.

The poll was conducted June 15 through June 19 among a national sample of 2,051 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See the full results here.

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