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Debt limit: Link any increase to spending cuts? Majority in poll says yes.

The results of the Monitor/TIPP poll – some 75 percent of respondents said the debt limit and spending should be linked – mesh with other surveys that cite rising concerns about deficits.

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The US flag flies next to the Capitol in Washington. This desire for spending restraint is widespread, according to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll released Monday, as Congress and President Obama have been wrestling with what to do about two fiscal deadlines.

Alex Brandon/AP/File

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Americans have a message for the politicians now weighing the nation’s fiscal future: Don’t take on more debt without cutting federal spending.

This desire for spending restraint is widespread, according to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll released Monday.

Some 75 percent of Americans agreed with a statement offered in the poll: “Any increase in the nation's debt limit must be tied to spending cuts.” Only 21 percent disagreed.

Although one question in one poll isn’t a complete guide to public opinion, the new poll meshes with other surveys that have found rising concern about federal deficits – a concern that appears to be partly based on worries that rising federal debt will harm the economy.

The poll is being released as Congress and President Obama have been wrestling with what to do about two fiscal deadlines: First, America has reached its official debt limit, meaning Congress must raise the limit before the Treasury can borrow more to help pay the nations bills. Second, at the start of March, unless some other plan is agreed upon, a so-called “sequester” will go into effect, prompting automatic spending cuts to be imposed on a large swathe of the federal budget.

Republicans have agreed to de-link the two issues, at least for a time, by allowing the Treasury to borrow more money through May. But conservative lawmakers promise to battle for significant spending cuts in talks over the sequester issue.

In the new Monitor/TIPP poll, respondents who identify as Republicans show greater concern about the size of federal spending.

About 85 percent of Republicans strongly agreed with the statement “The government spends too much money,” compared with 44 percent of Democrats. But 77 percent of Democrats did agree with that statement to some degree (either “strongly” or “somewhat,” as measured by the poll.)

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