Obama’s Approval Tanks Over the Economy and ISIS
For a while, President Obama enjoyed a revival in popularity after years of public unease and displeasure with his stewardship of the economy and foreign policy. His approval rating jumped as high as 49 percent in mid-January, according to Gallup, and then tapered off a little amid renewed uncertainty about the economic recovery.
In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, however, 45 percent of Americans say they approve of Obama’s job performance, while 49 percent disapprove. That is his weakest rating in the survey since late 2014. The president effectively lost five points in approval since January and he hasn’t seen majority support since May 2013, according to survey analysis.
Analysts blame the decline in the president’s approval on continued economic anxiety at home – despite a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent in April and other signs of economic revival – and the advance of ISIS and other Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria.
The condition of the economy consistently has topped the list of voters’ concerns heading into the 2016 campaign. The economic gains touted by the administration since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009 apparently haven’t been enough to calm fears, analysts say.
Seventy-three percent of those surveyed recently remain worried about the economy’s direction, and among them Obama’s approval drops to 35 percent, according to the survey. What’s more, Obama gets only a 31 percent approval rating specifically for handling the advance of ISIS militants, with 55 percent disapproving. Public approval of the president’s handling of the war against ISIS is 16 percentage points worse than his rating on handling the economy.
Chart of the Day: Long Way to Go on Coronavirus Testing
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
After Spending $2 Billion, Air Force Bails Out on Planned Upgrades of B-2 Bombers
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Big Hurdle for Sanders’ Plan to Cancel Student Debt
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
Number of the Day: $7 Million
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”