A survey of Americans shows that only about half of them think it is "absolutely essential" to increase the country's borrowing authority by Thursday to avert a default on U.S. debts, while more than a third think the country can go past the deadline without major economic problems.
The Pew Research Center said it surveyed more than 1,500 Americans in recent days, with 51 percent saying the country's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling should be increased so the U.S. can continue to borrow enough money to pay its bills. But a sizeable minority — 36 percent — said the U.S. could go past the deadline when its borrowing authority expires.
U.S. Senate leaders Wednesday agreed to a plan that extends the U.S. borrowing authority into early February, but both the Senate and the House of Representatives must still approve it before sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The Pew poll said there was a sharp partisan divide on the necessity of increasing the debt ceiling, with two-thirds of Democrats saying it is essential, but only 37 percent of Republicans.
The survey results are a reflection of the political divide in Congress. Democratic supporters of Obama, a Democrat, have mostly sought to increase the borrowing limit without conditions, while his Republican opponents have sought to curtail government spending and the start-up of his health care reforms now being put in place before agreeing to increase the debt ceiling.