While “the economy in general” still ranks No. 1 (21 percent), the federal budget deficit (20 percent) and dissatisfaction with government (18 percent) edged unemployment (16 percent) out of the top two slots.
“Debt and dissatisfaction with government are the new unemployment,” says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll in Princeton, N.J.
Dissatisfaction with government hasn’t ranked this high in Gallup polling since the Watergate era in 1974. As divided as Americans are on debt and deficit policy, they still expect their leaders to compromise.
The 2011 debt-limit standoff, resolved at the 11th hour after Democrats agreed to Boehner's demands to match every dollar of a higher debt limit with a dollar of spending cuts, rattled the US economy and drew the first-ever downgrade of the US credit rating.
In the run-up to negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" at the end of 2012, two-thirds of Republicans and Democrats wanted both sides to compromise equally to avoid some $600 billion in tax hikes and automatic spending cuts then set to take hold Jan. 1, polls found.
But neither the president nor Mr. Boehner are talking compromise in advance of the latest debt-limit crisis, expected as early as mid-February.
In a press conference Monday, the president said he will not negotiate with Republicans over raising the debt limit, period, but that he would be willing to discuss in a separate context “a balanced approach” to deficit reduction.
Boehner restated his own line in the sand. “The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time,” he said in a statement after the White House press conference.