U. S. President Barack Obama in Chicago, Feb. 15, 2013. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. voters agree with President Barack Obama on reducing the debt through increased revenues and spending cuts, a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll found.
The nationwide poll of 1,504 adults -- conducted Feb. 13-18 -- found if is no deal is reached by March 1 to avoid scheduled across-the-board federal spending, 49 percent would hold congressional Republicans responsible and 31 percent would blame President Barack Obama.
About 1-in-4 of those surveyed said they had heard about the spending -- about the same percentage as those who said they knew nothing about it.
If there is no deal by March 1, 40 percent say it would be preferable to let the cuts take effect and 49 percent say it would be better to delay the cuts, Pew said on its website.
The margin of sampling error was 2.9 percentage points.
Obama placed telephone calls Thursday to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to discuss the sequester, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, telling White House reporters the president "had good conversations" with the top congressional Republicans.
Carney did not provide specifics of the discussions.
The president placed calls this week to several GOP senators -- including John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Obama said Thursday he doesn't know whether Republicans "are going to move" on avoid what he has called a "meat clever" approach to spending cuts, The Hill reported.
"We're going to have to try to keep pushing over the next seven or eight days," he said on the syndicated Al Sharpton radio show.
"My sense is their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, and they would prefer to see these kind of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes," the president said. "And that's the thing that binds their party together at this point."
A spokesman for Boehner said Republicans would consider closing loopholes, but only if savings did not go to pay for further deficit spending, The Hill said.