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If an agreement is not reached by the end of the year, payroll taxes will jump on Jan. 1 from this year’s 4.2 percent back to their normal level of 6.2 percent.

Americans are virtually out of patience, the polling shows. And their distrust crosses party lines.

“I really don’t feel that they are having the best interests of us as a people,” said Rogersville, Tenn., resident Andrea Stafford, 38, a single mother of two who has been unemployed since the summer.

“And when I say people,” she added, “I don’t mean millionaires and government officials. I’m talking about the normal person who gets up and fixes their children’s lunch and has to take off work when their child is sick because we don’t have nannies.”

The AP-GfK poll found congressional approval near its all-time low and nearly all Americans disappointed with politics. Eighty-four percent of the respondents disapproved of the way Congress is doing its job, with at least 8 in 10 Republicans, Democrats and independents feeling that way.

As for how to balance the federal budget, more now favor cutting government services as the best means to bring federal spending into balance. Sixty percent think lawmakers should focus on budget cuts over tax increases. That figure had been as low as 53 percent in August, during the showdown over raising the country’s debt limit.

The biggest shift on that question has come from independents. In the August poll, 37 percent said lawmakers should focus on increasing taxes and 42 percent said cutting services. Now, that divide stands at 28 percent for raising taxes and 59 percent for cutting services.

The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 8-12 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


AP Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, writer Stacy Anderson and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.