(POLITICALTICKER.BLOGS.CNN) — While Members of Congress have a slightly higher honesty rating than last year, the lawmakers are still considered the least trusted professionals by the American public, barely edging out car salespeople for the lowest spot, according to a new Gallup survey released Monday.

Congress has had consistently low approval ratings over the years and 2012 is no exception, with more than half of Americans–54%–saying lawmakers on Capitol Hill have low or very low ethical standards and only 10% saying the elected officials have high or very high standards.

The poll numbers come as Republicans and Democrats are locked in a bitter battle in Congress over how to reach a deficit-reduction agreement before an end-of-the-year deadline. If they fail to act, a large amount of tax hikes and spending cuts will kick in at the start of next year, a fiscal shift that could put the economy into a recession.


Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.