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John Boehner's Fiscal Cliff Approach Unpopular With Voters

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In this Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves his office and walks to the House floor to deliver remarks about negotiations with President Obama on the fiscal cliff, on Capitol Hill in Washington. | AP

Voters are not impressed by House Speaker John Boehner's handling of "fiscal cliff" negotiations, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Just 25 percent of voters approve of the Ohio Republican's handling of budget negotiations, compared with 49 percent who approve of President Barack Obama's. And while Obama gets 79 percent approval from Democratic voters, Boehner garners only 39 percent approval from Republicans. He gets lower marks from moderates than from "very conservative" Republicans.

"Fiscal cliff" is the nickname for the moment at the end of the year when big automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take effect and Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that if Congress fails to make the spending cuts and tax hikes less severe, it could cause a recession.

President Obama has long insisted that the tax cuts should be allowed to expire on household incomes above $250,000, while Boehner has been adamant that no tax rates should increase. Popular opinion has long been on Obama's side, as polls have consistently shown that the public favors higher taxes on higher incomes. An earlier Washington Post-Pew poll showed that most Americans would blame Republicans if fiscal cliff talks fail.

A handful of Republicans in the House, most notably Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), have broken ranks to urge Boehner to give in to Obama on the top marginal tax rates.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that Boehner hasn't been getting much help from other top Republicans in the House.

"Boehner's having trouble finding help from his leadership as to what they're to do," Reid said. "The speaker has to make an important decision -- whether he's going to save his speakership or the country."

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