Americans are split over the "fiscal cliff" agreement reached by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, with 43 percent saying they approve and 45 percent saying they disapprove, according to a Gallup poll.
Among Republican participants, 27 percent said they approve of the deal, and 65 percent said they disapprove. Among Democrats, 67 percent approve, and 23 percent disapprove, shows the one-day poll of 1,026 national adults conducted Thursday, two days after the agreement, which raised taxes on wealthy Americans while preserving middle-class rates.
Among independents, 39 percent said they approve of the measure, and 46 percent said they disapprove.
The strong rank-and-file GOP opposition to the agreement appears to be in line with the opposition among Republican House members, the poll notes. The agreement was initially approved by a strong bipartisan vote of 89 to 8 in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but passed by a much slimmer 257-167 margin in the Republican-controlled House, with 151 Republicans voting against it.
While Americans generally are more negative than positive about how federal government leaders handled the fiscal cliff negotiations, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have the highest approval ratings. Obama received a 46 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval rating, and Biden received virtually the same ratio of approval to disapproval (40 percent to 42 percent) albeit with a significantly higher "no opinion" percentage in the poll.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John Boehner each only received an approval rating of around 30 percent.
While he last-minute agreement in Congress to forestall the fiscal cliff – which refers to the more than $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that were set to hit in January – avoided a very negative situation for the U.S. and its citizens, Americans are quite restrained in their reaction to the agreement, the poll found. Slightly more Americans disapprove than approve, and they also gave all leaders involved in the negotiations at least slightly more negative than positive evaluations for their work in arriving at an agreement.
In the coming weeks, Congress will have to vote on raising the debt ceiling, negotiations for which are also expected to be divisive because Republicans prefer spending cuts to raising the debt limit.
On Thursday, McConnell asked President Obama to be ready to "have a fight" over government spending and the debt limit in the coming weeks. In a Yahoo News op-ed, which appeared hours after Congress sent a bill for the president's signature to avoid the fiscal cliff, McConnell wrote the tax debate is now a thing of the past with the new legislation.
"I have news for him: The moment that he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the terms of the current arrangement, it was the last word on taxes. That debate is over," McConnell wrote. "Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation's fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion."