President Obama is back in Washington today to deal with the looming fiscal cliff deadline.
While a long-term deal is unlikely at this late date, the hope is lawmakers can find a stopgap solution to prevent sharp tax increases and big spending cuts. All of this comes as the Treasury Department warns that its taking steps to avoid hitting the debt ceiling by the end of the year.
How does the average American feel about such high-stakes budget issues? When it comes to the fiscal cliff, at least, Americans are worried about the impact on their wallets.
"We found over 6 out of 10 Americans said yes, [the fiscal cliff] would affect them negatively if the U.S. sails off the cliff on January first," says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the polling firm Gallup.
As the public awaits a compromise in Washington, some politicians are taking more heat than others for the standstill.
"If it is a duel, President Obama is winning," in his battle with House Speaker John Boehner, says Newport. According to the latest polling, 54 percent of those surveyed approve of how Obama is handling the fiscal cliff negotiations versus a 26 percent approval rating for Boehner.
The biggest loser in the fiscal cliff debate is Congress as a whole. Its current approval rating is at 18 percent -- just above its lowest approval rating of 10 percent recorded last summer.
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