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Why It's So Hard To Step Back From 'fiscal Cliff'

In a nation of red states and blue states, Republican and Democrats alike believe they are doing what their voters back home want.

Neither side has a clear advantage in public opinion. In an AP-GfK poll, 43 percent said they trust the Democrats more to manage the federal budget deficit and 40 percent preferred the Republicans. There's a similar split on taxes.

About half of Americans support higher taxes for the wealthy, the poll says, and about 10 percent want tax increases all around. Still, almost half say cutting government services, not raising taxes, should be the main focus of lawmakers as they try to balance the budget.

When asked about specific budget cuts being discussed in Washington, few Americans express support for them.

Raising taxes and cutting government services is never easy.

___

THE BRIGHT SIDE

There is a silver lining. Honest. The "fiscal cliff" furor makes this the best chance in a long time to really tackle the $16 trillion national debt.

Obama and Congress have tried and failed over and again to seriously attack budget deficits hitting about $1 trillion per year. This time, the stakes are so high that Washington may finally make some painful choices to head off a long-term crisis.

If the dealmakers can ease in those changes without jeopardizing the shaky economic recovery, Bernanke says the nation's prospects will look brighter in the new year.

___

Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn and Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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