Congressional Republicans are standing behind their pledge not to raise a penny in taxes as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Nevertheless, at least one new poll suggests that most Republican voters might forgive them for giving in for the sake of saving the deal.
Most respondents stressed that they would prefer spending cuts over tax increases as part of the deal currently under negotiation between Republicans and the White House. But the level of opposition to tax hikes is not nearly as strong as Republicans make it out to be, according to a new Gallup poll.
Just one in five voters said they want the debt deal to include spending cuts only--the path outlined by House and Senate Republicans who say they will refuse any plan that raises taxes. More surprisingly, just 26 percent of Republican voters said they wouldn't support a deal if it included tax hikes.
Of course, Gallup doesn't have a monopoly on tax polling. House Republicans can point to numerous other surveys over the past few years that show strong opposition to tax increases. A Bloomberg poll in June, for instance, showed that 55 percent of respondents thought spending cuts and lower taxes were the best way to spur the economy. Only 17 percent said they supported increasing spending levels, and 61 percent said they would not be willing to pay more in taxes to reduce the deficit.
House Speaker John Boehner has said for months that "the American people don't want us to raise taxes," and the party will likely hold its ground even if it means jettisoning a debt-reduction deal. For those who think they'll crack, there is precedent to suggest that they're not bluffing: When the parties were embroiled in negotiations about whether to extend the Bush-era tax rates last December, the Republicans wouldn't budge, and a deal was made. (Although it's looking increasingly unlikely that they'll see a successful conclusion this time around.)
But the newest Gallup poll does drive home a point that perhaps GOP leaders aren't focused on: While most Americans prefer taxes don't go up, they won't necessarily take to the streets if increases are part of the package deal.