US Fiscal Confidence Dips as Lawmakers Continue to Face Budget Crisis

Nov 21, 2023

Contact: Jeremy Rosen

US Fiscal Confidence Dips as Lawmakers Continue to Face Budget Crisis

With Debt at $33.7 Trillion and Rising, the November 2023 Fiscal Confidence Index is 37 (100 is Neutral)

NEW YORK (November 21, 2023) — As lawmakers passed another short-term continuing resolution, setting up new deadlines for a potential government shutdown in 2024, U.S. Fiscal confidence dipped to a near record low of 37 in November. In the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s latest monthly survey, modeled after the Consumer Confidence Index, 82% of voters say their concern about the rising national debt has increased.

Seven-in-10 voters say lawmakers are on the wrong track when it comes to the debt, tying a six-month high, and 82% of voters want the president and Congress to spend more time addressing the problem.

“As the national debt races toward $34 trillion, policymakers remain mired in short-term budget battles that do nothing to improve our fiscal outlook,” said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peterson Foundation. “Voters remain deeply concerned about the state of our nation’s finances and are calling on their leaders to make structural reforms. Now is the time for a bipartisan fiscal commission that would enable lawmakers to look comprehensively across the entire budget for solutions that stabilize our debt and strengthen our nation.”

Recent Peterson Foundation polling shows that 90% of Democrats and Republicans support a bipartisan fiscal commission, and specific legislation has now been introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives to create one. Last week, a group of 10 respected policy experts from across the ideological spectrum made the case for why a commission is needed right now, how it can be successful, and which policies could help stabilize the debt.

The Fiscal Confidence Index measures public opinion about the national debt by asking six questions in three key areas:

  • CONCERN: Level of concern and views about the direction of the national debt.
  • PRIORITY: How high a priority addressing the debt should be for elected leaders.
  • EXPECTATIONS: Expectations about whether the debt situation will get better or worse in the next few years.

The survey results from these three areas are weighted equally and averaged to produce the Fiscal Confidence Index value. The Fiscal Confidence Index, like the Consumer Confidence Index, is indexed on a scale of 0 to 200, with a neutral midpoint of 100. A reading above 100 indicates positive sentiment. A reading below 100 indicates negative sentiment.

Fiscal Confidence Index Key Data Points:

  • The November 2023 Fiscal Confidence Index value is 37. (The October value was 38. The September value was 39.)
  • The current Fiscal Confidence Index score for CONCERN about the debt is 28, indicating deep concern about the debt. The score for debt as a PRIORITY that leaders must address is 26, indicating that Americans want elected leaders to make addressing long-term debt a high priority. The score for EXPECTATIONS about progress on the debt is 57. The Fiscal Confidence Index is the average of these three sub-category scores.
  • For a description of the complete methodology, see the Appendix below.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation commissioned this poll by the Global Strategy Group and North Star Opinion Research to survey public opinion on the national debt. The online poll included 1,000 registered voters nationwide, surveyed between November 13, 2023 and November 15, 2023. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. The poll examined voters’ opinions on the national debt, political leadership, and America’s fiscal and economic health.

Detailed poll results can be found online at:

About the Peter G. Peterson Foundation

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the nature and urgency of key fiscal challenges threatening America's future, and to accelerating action on them. To address these challenges successfully, we work to bring Americans together to find and implement sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results. To learn more, please visit

APPENDIX: Fiscal Confidence Index Methodology and Questions

  • The Fiscal Confidence Index is released monthly by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
  • The Fiscal Confidence Index value is based on six questions in three categories.
  • As is done with the Consumer Confidence Index, the first step in calculating the Fiscal Confidence Index is determining the “Relative Value” for each question. This calculation is made by taking the positive response for each question and dividing it by the sum of the positive and negative responses. Each question was asked on a four-point scale, and answers were weighted according to intensity, with the strongest responses counting twice as much as the middle responses (“much” better or worse answers count twice as heavily as “somewhat” better or worse answers).
  • The scores for the Concern, Priority, and Expectations categories are determined by averaging the scores derived from the two questions in each category.
  • The Fiscal Confidence Index value is converted from the Relative Value to place it on a scale on which 100 indicates equal positive and negative sentiment, while values below 100 indicate negative sentiment and values above 100 indicate positive sentiment.
  • The questions are as follows:


Thinking about our national debt over the last few years, would you say your level of concern has increased or decreased?
◊ Is that a lot or just a little?
November 2023 October 2023 September 2023
Increased a lot 54% 53% 50%
Increased a little 27% 27% 29%
Decreased a little 4% 4% 4%
Decreased a lot 2% 3% 3%
(No change) 10% 10% 10%
(Don't Know/Refused) 2% 4% 3%
INCREASED (NET) 82% 79% 80%
DECREASED (NET) 6% 7% 7%
When it comes to addressing our national debt, would you say things in the United States are heading in the right direction or do you think things are off on the wrong track?
◊ Do you feel that way strongly or just somewhat?
November 2023 October 2023 September 2023
Right direction — Strongly 7% 7% 8%
Right direction — Somewhat 19% 18% 20%
Wrong track — Somewhat 27% 26% 27%
Wrong track — Strongly 43% 44% 42%
(Neither/Mixed) 1% 1% 1%
(Don't Know/Refused) 3% 3% 3%
WRONG TRACK (NET) 70% 70% 69%
Some people say that addressing the national debt should be among the president and Congress' top 3 priorities. Do you agree or disagree?
◊ Do you feel that way strongly or just somewhat?
November 2023 October 2023 September 2023
Strongly agree 54% 55% 55%
Somewhat agree 23% 24% 25%
Somewhat disagree 14% 12% 12%
Strongly disagree 5% 5% 4%
(Don't Know/Refused) 5% 5% 5%
AGREE (NET) 76% 79% 80%
DISAGREE (NET) 19% 16% 15%
And when it comes to our national debt, do you think it is an issue that the president and Congress should spend more time addressing or less time addressing?
◊ Would you say a lot (more or less) time or just a little?
November 2023 October 2023 September 2023
A lot more time 52% 53% 53%
A little more time 30% 30% 30%
A little less time 6% 4% 5%
A lot less time 4% 4% 4%
(The same amount of time) 3% 4% 3%
(Don't Know/Refused) 4% 5% 5%
MORE TIME (NET) 82% 83% 83%
LESS TIME (NET) 10% 9% 9%
And thinking about our national debt over the next few years, do you expect the problem to get better or worse?
◊ Is that much (better or worse) or just somewhat (better or worse)?
November 2023 October 2023 September 2023
Much better 6% 5% 6%
Somewhat better 17% 19% 19%
Somewhat worse 32% 32% 32%
Much worse 38% 36% 36%
(No change) 3% 4% 3%
(Don't know/Refused) 4% 5% 4%
BETTER (NET) 23% 24% 25%
WORSE (NET) 70% 68% 67%
And when it comes to our national debt, are you optimistic or pessimistic that the United States will be able to make progress on our national debt over the next few years?
◊ Would you say you are very (optimistic or pessimistic) or just somewhat?
November 2023 October 2023 September 2023
Very optimistic 6% 7% 6%
Somewhat optimistic 30% 34% 36%
Somewhat pessimistic 36% 34% 33%
Very pessimistic 21% 19% 18%
(Neither/Mixed) 3% 3% 3%
(Don't Know/Refused) 3% 3% 4%
OPTIMISTIC (NET) 37% 41% 42%
PESSIMISTIC (NET) 57% 53% 51%

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