The phrase "fiscal cliff" refers to some $600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes that are currently scheduled to take effect at the start of 2013, unless Congress takes action. It's a problem of lawmakers' own making. Unable to reach a fiscal deal in 2011, the two parties in Congress gave themselves an incentive to come to an agreement by setting a deadline when automatic spending cuts would kick in alongside the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
Economists have warned that going over this cliff could send the country back into recession early next year, slowing the economy and pushing unemployment up as the tax hikes hit home. But avoiding any tax hikes or spending cuts would cause the public debt to keep growing, which could harm economic growth.
With the fiscal cliff increasingly making news headlines, the Monitor/TIPP poll sought to test what policy options the public preferred.
A majority described their current federal tax burden as "about right," and a similar majority (55 percent) supported the the general idea of extending current tax rates for all Americans, rather than letting them expire.
The poll also took the nation's pulse on 12 specific fiscal policy options, including some spending cuts and tax hikes. Only one of them, raising taxes on high-earning households, garnered majority support – a poll result hinting at the politically tortuous choices facing elected officials.
Here are the ideas tested in the poll, ranked by popularity: