Move over, economy. The American public has a bigger problem—and that problem is largely based in Washington.
Following a year of low approval ratings for members of Congress and the President, it’s no surprise that more Americans say the government is the biggest problem facing the country.
A new Gallup poll out on Wednesday shows that 21 percent of people ranked the government as their primary concern ahead of the usual top contenders – the economy, which received 18 percent, and the unemployment rate, which received 16 percent. The negative response to government question included, “Dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians; poor leadership/corruption/abuse of power.”
The concern and dissatisfaction with the federal government has topped the list since last October, when political infighting over the funding of the president’s health care law forced a 16-day government shutdown that halted federal programs and temporarily put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. The number has since fallen back to its January 2013 level, driven mostly by Republicans (26 percent), Independents (23 percent) and least of all, Democrats (18 percent).
Unsurprisingly, congressional approval ratings have suffered as well. They fell to a record low of 9 percent in the wake of the shutdown and ended the year at a measly 13 percent. Lawmakers also earned the title of least productive Congress in history, passing a mere 60 bills.
For its part, Congress did manage to pass a bipartisan budget deal in December and is about to narrowly avoid another government shutdown this month.
The disappointment isn’t just with Congress, either. President Obama is also suffering from dismal approval ratings that have hovered in the low 40s, likely explained by the botched rollout of his signature health care law. One month into the Obamacare launch, the president’s approval rating fell to 39 percent – the lowest of his presidency, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
Health care also ranks as a major concern among the public. About 16 percent of those polled listed it as their top issue of this year, compared to only 4 percent last year. That increase can likely be explained by the troubled rollout of Obamacare as well as the President’s broken promise about keeping your health plan if you like it.
The poll is also revealing about attitudes toward the national debt. As an issue, it began last year near the top of the list, with roughly 20 percent of people listing it as the nation’s biggest problem. It’s now near the bottom of the public’s concerns, at just 8 percent.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: