BUSINESS
05/13/2011 11:44 am ET Updated Jul 13, 2011

Nearly Half Of Americans Oppose Raising The Debt Ceiling: Gallup Poll

Despite warnings that America must raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid potentially catastrophic economic consequences, nearly half of Americans just don't like that idea very much, a new poll says.

According to new data from Gallup, 47 percent of Americans say they want their Congressman to vote against raising the debt ceiling. Only 19 percent say they would like to increase the debt limit.

The U.S. government will hit the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling on Monday, May 16, but Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said he can and will use "extraordinary measures" to delay until August 2 what would be the first-ever default on U.S. bonds. The U.S. debt ceiling, defined as the country's maximum level of borrowing power, is set by the government itself, but with both parties taking advantage of the moment to debate the federal deficit, it's safe to say the issue has been usurped.

No one political party supports raising the debt ceiling, Gallup finds, but Democrats get closest with 33 percent in support of raising the debt ceiling. Of Republicans, 70 percent say they oppose increasing the country's borrowing power.

Notably, over one in three Americans say they don't well-enough understand the issue to take a stand, either way.

But many other Americans say they are tuned into the issue. 57 percent of the 1,018 adults surveyed say they are very closely or somewhat closely following "discussions to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, the maximum amount of money the U.S. government can borrow by law." 32 percent of Republicans say they are following the issue "very closely," compared to 16 percent of Democrats.

Not raising the debt limit would be extremely damaging to the U.S. economy, experts have warned. In early January, Treasury Secretary Geithner wrote in a letter to congressional leaders that no extension could cause "catastrophic damage to the economy, potentially much more harmful than the effects of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009."

The business community agrees. Just this week, 62 business groups collectively warned congress of what not extending the debt limit could mean for the economic recovery.

“Raising the statutory debt limit is critical to ensuring global investors’ confidence in the creditworthiness of the United States,” the groups wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal. “With economic growth slowly picking up we cannot afford to jeopardize that growth with the massive spike in borrowing costs that would result if we defaulted on our obligations.

Watch AOL News on the approaching debt ceiling: