If President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans fail to reach an agreement to avert the "fiscal cliff" by the end of the year, most Americans believe Republicans will be at fault, according to a CNN/ORC poll.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed said Republicans in Congress would be mostly to blame if an agreement is not reached. Thirty-four percent believe that Obama would be more to blame and 15 percent said both Obama and Republicans would be responsible for not reaching an agreement.
Most Americans also believe the fiscal cliff is a serious issue, but do not have much confidence that elected officials will reach an agreement, the poll suggests.
When asked if the fiscal cliff "would cause a crisis, major problems, minor problems, or no problems," most answered crisis (24 percent) or major problems (44 percent).
When asked if elected officials "will behave mostly like responsible adults or mostly like spoiled children," 67 percent said "spoiled children."
Compared, though, to Summer 2011 when Obama and the Republicans were negotiating an increase to the nation's debt limit, the public is slightly more confident that a deal will be reached. In 2011, 77 percent expected the elected officials involved to behave like spoiled children.
In the negotiations, Democrats mostly want to protect funding for social welfare and entitlement programs while Republicans mostly want to keep tax rates low. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders have said that they will accept revenue increases that come from eliminating tax deductions and credits, but they do not want tax rate increases. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and some other Democratic leaders have said that tax rate increases must be part of the deal.
If the two sides do not reach an agreement, tax increases and spending cuts will automatically go into effect. The Congressional Budget Office has said that the combination of both of those occurring simultaneously will likely cause a recession.
If the leaders were to simply revoke the spending cuts and tax increases without replacing them with a long term deficit reduction plan, though, it will cause even bigger problems in the future, the CBO added. Namely, the nation's debt burden, now at over $16 trillion, will become unsustainable.
The Nov. 16-18 poll of 1,023 adult Americans has a plus or minus three percentage point margin of error.