Poll: Majority of Republicans and tea partiers not worried about debt ceiling deadline

Chris Moody

More than half of self-identifying Republicans do not think the economy will to suffer if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, a new national poll has found.

Fifty-three percent of Republicans say that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by the deadline set by the Treasury Department will not be "a major problem," according to a nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The number jumps to 65 percent for those who identify with the tea party movement.

The public at large, however, is evenly split.

This lackluster state of public worry comes in spite numerous warnings from the Treasury Department that the nation could default on its debts to bondholders and threats from international credit rating agencies to lower the country's credit status.

The White House has engaged in a months-long messaging campaign emphasizing the need for action, and congressional Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have gone to great lengths to say the debt ceiling "must" be raised. The new poll suggests that the voices of the Republican party's most conservative voices--including the influx of tea party freshman members of the House, conservative talk radio hosts,and advocacy groups--have drowned out the repeated pleas from party leadership to cut a deal.

Unable to convince key Republicans and American conservatives to find an agreement, House Democrats this week unleashed a surprising weapon in the battle over the deb limit. The caucus dusted off a 24-year-old radio address in which former President Ronald Reagan urges Congress to raise the debt ceiling--and does so by using much the same language that President Obama has used for months.

"Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility," rings the voice of the late Reagan, who sounds eerily relevant today. "This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar."

Still, the  negotiations between the parties grind on with no deal clearly in sight. The Republican-led House will take a largely symbolic vote later today on a plan to raise the debt ceiling that includes spending cuts and caps, and an amendment to the Constitution that requires Congress to balance its budget every year. Obama has vowed to veto it in the unlikely event that the measure passes the Democratic-controlled Senate.