American Public Thinks It Understands the Debt Ceiling

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Photo: iStockphoto

As we creep closer to the beginning of August, by which time we had better raise the debt ceiling unless we want the economy to collapse again, polling continues to confirm that the American public has no idea what the hell is going on.

[B]y a 48%-to-35% margin, Americans say their greater concern is that raising the debt limit would lead to higher government spending and a larger national debt than that not raising the limit would force the government into default and hurt the nation's economy.

So let's get this straight: Raising the debt ceiling will encourage the government to rack up more debt, which sometime down the line could hurt the economy if we don't manage to eventually get it under control, while not raising the debt ceiling would cause the government to default, definitely destroying the economy right now. Seems like a pretty easy choice. Maybe the people who are more concerned about debt than default just don't have a good understanding of the consequences of not raising the debt limit?

People who feel like they have at least a fairly good understanding of the consequences of not raising the debt limit say their greater concern is that raising the limit would lead to higher government spending, by a 52%-to-37% margin.

We feel like their understanding might not be as good as they think it is.

More Concern about Raising Debt Limit than Government Default [Pew Research]