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72 percent in survey oppose government shutdown tied to health care

In a rejection of congressional Republicans’ strategy, Americans overwhelmingly oppose undermining President Obama’s health care law by shutting down the federal government or resisting an increase in the nation’s debt limit, according to a poll released yesterday.

By 72 percent to 22 percent, Americans oppose Congress “shutting down major activities of the federal government” as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act from going into effect, the national survey from Quinnipiac University found.

By 64 percent to 27 percent, voters don’t want Congress to block an increase in the nation’s $16.7 trillion federal borrowing limit as a way to thwart implementation of the health care law, which Obama signed into law in 2010 with a goal of insuring millions of Americans.

A majority of the public, 58 percent, is opposed to cutting off funding for the insurance program that began enrollment yesterday. Thirty-four percent support defunding it.

While objecting to tactics embraced by House Republicans to thwart the health care law, Americans are divided on the president’s job performance and the law.

By 49 percent to 45 percent, more voters disapprove than approve of how Obama is handling his job as president. They oppose the health care law by 47 percent to 45 percent.

“Americans are certainly not in love with Obamacare, but they reject decisively the claim by congressional Republicans that it is so bad that it’s worth closing down the government to stop it,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Hamden, Conn.-based polling institute.

The fight over Obamacare led to the first partial government shutdown since 1996, as Democrats and Republicans Monday night failed to agree on a funding measure before the new fiscal year began.

Democrats said Republicans are re-litigating a law enacted more than three years ago that was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court in June 2012 and validated by Obama’s re-election last November. Republicans said the health care law is unpopular with Americans and stunting job growth.

The partial government shutdown put as many as 800,000 federal employees out of work starting yesterday. It could shave as much as 1.4 percentage points from fourth-quarter economic growth, depending on how long the budget impasse lasts, according to some economists.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that extraordinary measures being used to avoid breaching the debt ceiling will be exhausted no later than Oct. 17.’

About 3 in 5 Americans reject Obama’s call for a “clean” debt-ceiling increase and say it’s “right to require spending cuts when the debt ceiling is raised” even if it risks default, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 20-23.

The political implications of a government shutdown and an impasse over the debt ceiling are unclear 13 months before the midterm congressional elections.

Voters prefer a Democratic House candidate to a Republican by 43 percent to 34 percent, the Quinnipiac poll found. The Democratic edge stems in part from the poor national image of the Republican Party, which voters disapprove of by 74 percent to 17 percent. Sixty percent of voters dislike the job Democrats are doing, compared with 32 percent who approve.

Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats to win a majority in the 435-member House of Representatives, which Republicans now control 232-200. There are three vacancies, two in districts that Republicans vacated. Democrats need an edge in national surveys to overcome district-by-district advantages for Republicans, who benefited in the 2012 House elections from favorable district lines and demographics.

“In general, the Republican brand is down as evidenced by the Democrats’ unusually large lead in the so-called generic ballot,” Brown said. “But we have 13 months before an election can translate this public opinion edge into electoral gains and in politics that amount of time is forever.”

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted Sept. 23-29 of 1,497 registered voters and had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.


Federal budget deadlock could stretch into debt-limit fight

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Washington began bracing for a prolonged government shutdown yesterday, with House Republicans continuing to demand that the nation’s new health care law be delayed or repealed and President Obama and the Democrats refusing to give in. There were signs on Capitol Hill that Republicans – knowing that blame almost certainly will fall most heavily on them – are beginning to …

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