Two new polls show taxpayers want to see spending restrictions tied to increasing the nation’s debt limit, but New Hampshire Democrats say no.
U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas reject any limits on future federal spending as part of any debt ceiling deal, putting them at odds with most Americans and a plurality of their fellow Granite Staters.
With the U.S. national debt approaching $32 trillion dollars in the wake of an explosion of federal spending — spending even Democratic economists concede contributed to the highest inflation since the 1980s — Americans say they want to tap the brakes.
Sixty percent of Americans said Congress should only raise the nation’s debt ceiling if it cuts spending at the same time, according to a new CNN poll. Another 15 percent said the national debt is so high the U.S. should refuse to raise the limit and default instead.
Only 35 percent said they approve of how President Joe Biden is handling the federal budget, and they disapproved of his handling of the economy as a whole by a 2-to-1 margin (66-34 percent).
The numbers among New Hampshire voters aren’t as stark, but they break down the same way: Spending limits, not a “clean” debt ceiling.
The new Granite State Poll, a States of Opinion Project conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found “a plurality of Granite Staters (47 percent) think an increase in the debt ceiling should be tied to future spending reductions, 39 percent think an increase in the debt ceiling should be separate from budget negotiations, and 14 percent are unsure.”
That plurality supporting spending reductions includes 80 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of independents.
Granite State Democrats don’t agree. Both Kuster and Pappas reject any spending limits and have called for Congress to raise the debt ceiling by at least another $1 trillion. They have also signed a discharge petition backed by progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to force the House to vote on a debt ceiling increase without spending limits.
“Republicans are creating needless chaos by playing politics with the debt ceiling negotiations,” Kuster said via Twitter. “Families in New Hampshire and nationwide deserve real solutions — not political stunts.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sees a political opportunity for the GOP. It is running ads targeting Pappas for voting to expand debt without any spending limits.
“Extreme Democrats Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster are out of touch with most Americans who want to get spending under control now,” NRCC spokeswoman Savannah Viar told NHJournal. “It’s shameful Pappas and Kuster are threatening economic disaster rather than entertain the idea of spending even one dollar less.”
Kuster and Pappas aren’t alone. In an interview on WMUR, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said the debt ceiling increase should not be linked to spending restraint.
“We should not default on our debt,” Hassan said, “and that’s a separate issue from concerns about what our budget should actually be.”
And Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said she believes there should be no debt ceiling at all on federal borrowing on behalf of taxpayers. She told Politico last December she would support removing the debt limit entirely.
“I would. I’d say it gets raised automatically,” Shaheen said.
The UNH poll shows this is a serious matter for Granite Staters. More than half (51 percent) think it is likely that the debt ceiling will be breached in the coming months, including 61 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents. Even 42 percent of the state’s Democrats fear the U.S. will likely default.