When Will the GOP Stop Bailing Out Taxpayers and Start Spending?

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By Andrew Prokop The GOP’s current fiscal plan is deeply unpopular among the electorate, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The poll found that just 23 percent of Americans believe that the GOP’s fiscal policy is “good” or “very good” compared to 52 percent who say it is “bad.”

While Democrats have a majority of the public’s support, Republicans are far more likely to say they support the party’s economic policies.

“In the wake of the GOP budget debacle, the American people are not eager to spend on programs that they believe will help Americans get ahead,” said David Wasserman, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

“So this poll shows that the Republicans’ economic agenda is unpopular, especially among independents, and that’s hurting the GOP brand among both Democrats and Republicans.”

While Republicans are taking a hard-line approach to tax cuts, spending cuts and entitlement reform, Democrats are taking an aggressive approach to fiscal prudence.

And that’s making it more difficult for the GOP to garner support,” Wasserman added.

A majority of Republicans (56 percent) and independents (51 percent) say that the economy is improving, and a plurality of Democrats (37 percent) agree.

The public also agrees that the federal government should spend more on education and infrastructure to create jobs, but Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that government should focus on the economy.

Democrats are more supportive of the Republican agenda than Republicans are of the Democratic Party.

The public is divided on how to fix the nation’s debt problem.

About a third of the American public (33 percent) says that the government should borrow to get the economy going again, while just 17 percent say the federal debt should be increased.

Another 31 percent say it should not increase, while a similar number (30 percent) is opposed to this policy.

As Republicans have moved away from the tax-cut-and-spend approach of the past few years, the public has become more pessimistic about the federal deficit and the country’s debt burden.

A majority (55 percent) of Americans now believe that our national debt is at a “significant” or greater level, compared to 35 percent who said this in September.

More than six in 10 (62 percent) Americans agree that the national debt has risen to “a level that should be regarded as a serious problem,” compared to 38 percent who were opposed to the idea.

Despite the fiscal crisis facing the country, there is broad agreement that Congress needs to act to address the debt.

Nearly eight in 10 Americans (82 percent) believe that Congress should pass a short-term extension of the Bush tax cuts or an extension of unemployment benefits, as well as raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for programs that benefit the middle class and the poor.

But when asked if Congress should increase taxes to pay down the national deficit, the majority of Americans (54 percent) are opposed to raising taxes on top earners, while 42 percent say that Congress shouldn’t raise taxes at all.

This is the first national poll of Americans since the House voted last month to pass a bipartisan tax bill, but there are a number of questions about the overall public’s views on the legislation.

Pew asked respondents how they felt about the tax bill and whether they supported or opposed the bill.

Forty-six percent of respondents supported the bill, while 48 percent said they opposed it.

Fifty-three percent said that the legislation would increase taxes on middle class Americans, while 49 percent said it would not.

Forty percent said the legislation increased taxes on wealthy Americans, whereas 47 percent said this was not true.

At the same time, 42 percent said these tax changes would make it harder for the country to meet its goals for reducing the national deficits and debt, while 41 percent said taxes on corporations would not make it easier to meet those goals.

Fifty percent said reducing the debt and deficit was important, while 47 percent did not say.

Finally, about six in ten (62%) Americans support the GOP plan to spend more money to pay off the nation and help the middle classes, while only 28 percent support a tax increase to pay it off.