A majority of U.S. voters simply don't believe it when Congress and the White House say that their agreement over a debt ceiling increase will include $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade.
The latest poll from Rasmussen Reports on the debt-ceiling deal struck by Congress and signed by President Obama indicates U.S. voters are not willing to take Washington's word that the plan is part of a solution to the fiscal mess in which the nation finds itself.
More specifically, only 30 percent thought it "likely" the spending cuts would materialize, while 62 percent believe the federal government will find some way over the next 10 years to escape the legislated reductions. When factoring out respondents identified as in the "political class," Rasmussen found 69 percent of mainstream voters doubt the cuts will happen.
Τhe poll follows on the heels of at least one legislator, Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., blasting the promised spending reductions as "fantasy cuts."
"All of this talk about the cuts, the supposed cuts that happened in this last bill that passed, those aren't cuts," Mack said in an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity earlier this week. "Those are fantasy cuts, those are reductions in the rate of growth.
"And everyone knows if you continue to spend $1.6 trillion more than you bring in, you have to borrow that money, [and] it adds to the debt," Mack said. "We can't continue to do that."
The Budget Control Act of 2011, signed by Obama earlier this week, raises the federal government's debt ceiling by trillions, thus permitting additional deficit spending, but also proposes future expenditures be shaved by $917 billion over the next 10 years and creates a "supercommittee" of lawmakers to find an additional $1.5 trillion in savings.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sold the measure as a success by pointing out the increase in the debt ceiling was matched, dollar for dollar, with spending cuts.
Nonetheless, the federal government will continue to operate at deficit levels, enabled by the Act's immediate $900-billion debt-ceiling increase, with additional raises of $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion possible if certain conditions within the legislation are met.
The budget deal has proven to be significantly unpopular with voters. For example, another Rasmussen poll taken the day the Act was signed found only 22 percent of likely voters nationwide approved of the agreement, while 53 percent disapproved.
The unpopularity of the legislation has also been blamed for record-setting levels of congressional disapproval ratings.
A New York Times/CBS News Poll, for example, found that 82 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress has been handling its job, the highest level since the poll began in 1977. More than 80 percent of the poll's respondents further said the debt negotiations had put scoring political points above helping the country, and nearly 75 percent said the spectacle had diminished America's image.
Rasmussen's own polling recently found that just 6 percent of Americans give lawmakers a good or exellent rating, and while Obama's approval rating is higher (24 percent strongly approve of his work), it, too, is at record lows.
The Rasmussen polls were conducted through telephone surveys of 1,000 likely voters with a reported margin of sampling error at +/- 3 percentage points with a 95-percent level of confidence.
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