As if anticipating Thursday's news that U.S. debt now exceeds the size of the economy, two-thirds of Americans say the debt-ceiling deal reached by Congress on Monday "doesn't go far enough," according to results of an IBD/TIPP Poll in progress.
The public is less sure, however, if deeper spending cuts should be the way to further reduce the debt or tax hikes and/or loophole closures.
The poll also shows that an already unpopular Congress has emerged from the debt negotiations with an even bigger black eye and that President Obama's handling of the crisis has left a lot to be desired.
On the other hand, the Tea Party — object of so much vitriol during debt negotiations — is taking a less-serious hit.
Overall, the poll is finding the public in favor of the agreed-upon debt plan by a 50% to 47% margin. But that masks deeper divisions below the surface.
As usual, opinion varies widely by political party. Nearly three in four Democrats (74%) agree with Congress' decision, with 32% agreeing strongly. But two of three (66%) Republicans disagree, 39% strongly. Independents disagree by 53%.
The main reason for disagreement is that the plan doesn't do enough to cut the debt. Overall, 67% feel this way vs. only 15% who say it goes too far and 10% who say it goes far enough. Republicans, by 78%, and independents, by 73%, feel it doesn't cut deep enough compared with 53% of Democrats.
Gaps also widen between investors and non-investors — with 70% of the former saying the plan doesn't go far enough vs. 65% of non-investors — and among regions. Seventy-four percent of Midwesterners and 70% of Southerners are disappointed by the size of the cuts vs. 58% of Westerners and 64% of respondents in the Northeast.
When asked if the plan should have cut more spending, 35% say yes, with Republicans at 56%, independents at 35% and Democrats at 17%.
When asked if more revenue should have been raised by raising taxes and/or closing tax loopholes, 36% say yes, with Democrats at 61%, Republicans at 12% and independents at 33%.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents have a lower opinion of Congress as a result of its handling of the debt-ceiling issue vs. 8% who have a more favorable opinion. Even 57% of Republicans checked "less favorable" (along with 70% of Democrats and 66% of independents).
Nearly half (49%) have a less favorable opinion of the president vs. 18% who are more impressed. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) Republicans have lower opinions vs. 54% of independents and 27% of Democrats.
Tea Partyers, who were called "terrorists" and worse for their firm opposition to the deal, are now seen less favorably by 48% and more favorably by 20% — slightly better numbers than for Republicans and Democrats.
And nearly half (48%) — including 53% of independents — say they'd still consider joining the Tea Party or attending a Tea Party rally vs. 45% who said they wouldn't.
When asked the same question last fall, 56% responded said yes and 40% said no.