Poll: Americans worried about fiscal cliff

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

As congressional leaders return to Washington this week, a new CNN/ORC poll shows that two-thirds of Americans think the country would face a crisis or major problems if Congress fails to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Roughly 24 percent said the country would face a crisis and 44 percent said the country would face major problems if the tax increases and spending cuts set to enact early next year are allowed to take hold. Just 24 percent think it would cause minor problems.

Fully 77 percent said it would impact their personal finances, and more than 70 percent called for Republicans and President Obama to compromise to find a solution. If talks fail, however, the poll suggests Republicans would receive greater blame. And respondents apparently don't have much confidence in the outcome.

When asked if “elected officials in Washington will behave mostly like responsible adults or mostly like spoiled children,” 67 percent chose the latter.

When asked about solutions, 67 percent said they want to see a budget plan with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, while just 29 percent want spending cuts only. Fifty-six percent said taxes on the wealthy should be kept high, while 36 percent think taxes for the wealthy should be kept low.

Obama has called for an increase in the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, while extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the lower- and middle-class citizens. Republicans have said recently that they would consider additional revenues, though they want to generate them by closing loopholes in the tax code rather than raising tax rates.

The poll was conducted with 1,023 Americans between Nov. 16 and 18, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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