Most Americans want a special congressional committee tasked with drafting a long-term solution to the nation's mounting federal deficits to include tax hikes for the wealthy and businesses and deep cuts in domestic spending, according to a new national survey.
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday also indicates that the public doesn't want the super committee to propose major changes to Social Security and Medicare or increase taxes on middle class and lower-income Americans.
Under the debt ceiling deal passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week, a panel of 12 legislators – six Democrats and six Republicans, equally divided between the House and Senate – will be created to try to work out $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction after an initial round of more than $900 billion in spending cuts.
If the committee fails to reach agreement or Congress fails to pass whatever package it recommends, a trigger mechanism will enact further across-the-board cuts in government spending, including for the military.
According to the poll, 63 percent say the super committee should call for increased taxes on higher-income Americans and businesses, with 36 percent disagreeing. And by a 57 to 40 percent margin they say the committee's deficit reduction proposal should include major cuts in domestic spending.
But cuts in defense spending get a mixed review: Forty-seven percent would like the committee to include major cuts in military spending, with 53 percent saying no to such cuts.
Nearly two-thirds say no to major changes to Social Security and Medicare. And nearly nine in ten don't want any increase in taxes on middle class and lower income Americans.
"Republicans and Democrats disagree on the need for cuts in domestic and military spending, as well as tax increases for higher-income Americans, but they do agree that the committee should stay away from tax hikes for the middle class and major changes to Social Security and Medicare," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
According to the survey, only a third say that taxes on wealthy people should be kept low because higher-income Americans help create jobs, with 62 percent saying that taxes on the wealthy should be high so the government can use the money for programs to help lower-income Americans.
"That sentiment has changed little since the 1990s," adds Holland.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on August 5-7, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey was conducted both before and after Friday night's downgrading of the country's credit rating by Standard and Poor's. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.