The poll underscores the tough task ahead for U.S. lawmakers as the debt nears its current ceiling of $14.3 trillion. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week warned that a failure to raise the borrowing limit in the coming months could lead to “catastrophic economic consequences.”
Brian Riedl, the lead budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the poll findings put “a lot more pressure on those who want to raise the debt limit to make a convincing argument to a very skeptical public.”
Republicans, who won control of the House of Representatives in November on a promise to scale back government, hope to pair any debt-ceiling hike with a commitment from President Barack Obama to reduce long-term spending.
Republicans have vowed to slash $60 billion from the budget as soon as March, but many of those cuts are not likely to be popular with the public.
The United States posted an $80 billion budget deficit in December. The government has now posted a budget deficit for 27 straight months, the longest streak on record.
A deal to extend tax cuts this year that was approved by Congress in December is expected to put a hole of more than $800 billion in the deficit over the next decade.
Obama wants broader tax reforms although it will be hard to get them through a divided Congress in the next two years. His administration is exploring ways to boost tax incentives for corporate investments, Geithner said.