POLL: Americans Blame Both Parties if Government Defaults on Debt

If the U.S. government were to default on its debt right now, Americans are pretty evenly split on who to blame. That’s according to a new poll put out by the Washington Post and ABC News.


If the government defaults on its debt, 39 percent of Americans say they would blame Republicans in Congress, while 36 percent say they would blame President Biden. On top of that, 16 percent say that they would blame both sides.

Via the Washington Post:

Opinions fall sharply along party lines, with Republicans just as likely to blame Biden (78 percent) as Democrats are to blame congressional Republicans (78 percent). A 37 percent plurality of independents say they would blame Republicans, with the remainder divided between Biden (29 percent) and blaming both equally (24 percent).


A 58 percent majority of Americans say the debt limit and federal spending should be handled as separate issues, down from 65 percent who said this in February. A much smaller 26 percentof Americans say Congress should only allow the government to pay its debts if Biden agrees to cut spending, the same share as February.

Most Democrats and independents say the debt limit should be handled separately from federal spending, although the share saying this declined by nine percentage points to 74 percent among Democrats, and by 15 points to 58 percent among independents since February.

Republicans are more divided, with 46 percent saying the debt limit and spending should be handled separately and 40 percent saying the ceiling should be lifted only if Biden agrees to cut spending. In February, 48 percent of Republicans said the debt limit should be tied to spending cuts.

Kevin McCarthy
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The poll comes ahead of a meeting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden. That meeting – which will also include Democrats Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer, as well as Republican Mitch McConnell – will be on Tuesday, May 9.

McCarthy was able to get a bill through the House that raises the debt ceiling into the next year while also including cuts to the federal budget. Biden and the White House had maintained previously that tying the debt ceiling to budget cuts was a non-starter. However, in recent days, it seems that they may be open to negotiation.

The Democrats are hesitant to set a precedent of tying the debt ceiling to budget cuts and have been vocally calling the Republican plan reckless. However, Republicans have pushed back, pointing to the fact that they have passed a plan, while Democrats and the Biden administration have yet to put anything forward.


In the last major debt ceiling fight between a Democratic administration and a Republican House, the 2011 debt limit showdown saw 42 percent of Americans saying they would blame congressional Republicans and 36 percent saying they would blame President Obama if the U.S. defaulted.

Lawmakers averted a default that year, but the Democrats are hoping against a repeat of that negotiation, which led to (among other things) sequestration and a government shutdown.


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