The Note: No Satisfaction: Americans Give GOP Lower Marks Than Obama On Economic Issues

Jul 20, 2011 9:11am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

It’s official: the American people are more dissatisfied — and even angry — with Washington than they’ve been in nearly two decades.

Roughly 80 percent of Americans in a new ABC News-Washington Post poll out today say they are fed up with the way the federal government is working. That’s a jump from 11 points since last month and the highest it’s been since 1992.

As talks to avert default on the nation’s debt obligations continue without a clear path to compromise, ABC pollster Gary Langer points out that “the opposition party’s taking even more heat than the president.”

“While President Obama for the first time has fallen under 40 percent approval for handling the economy, the Republicans in Congress do even worse, 28 percent approval,” Langer writes. “On handling the deficit, it’s a weak 38 percent approval for Obama, but a weaker 27 percent for the GOP. And on handling taxes, Obama has 45 percent approval, the GOP, 31 percent.”

Other key points from the poll:

– President Obama has a 47 percent overall job approval rating. ("That’s better than it might be, given the economy and the public’s palpable annoyance with Washington," according to Langer.)

–Obama leads the congressional Republicans in trust to handle the debt debate — 48 percent to 39 percent. Fifty-eight percent say the president hasn’t done enough to compromise on the deficit, while 77 percent, say the same about the Republican leaders.

– Forty-seven percent of Americans think large spending cuts will create jobs, while 44 percent think spending cuts will actually result in job losses.

– Eighty-two percent of Americans foresee serious harm to the U.S. economy overall if the debt limit isn’t raised.

– Sixty percent of American say a default would cause serious harm to their own financial situation.

BOTTOM LINE: Nobody in Washington comes out looking very good, it's just that Republicans and their policies are more disliked than those of the Democrats. The biggest irony is that Republicans swept into office on a wave of anger at all things “establishment,” yet by wide margins Americans see them as more interested in helping Wall Street, big business and themselves.

The danger for Obama is that while his numbers may be a bit better than the GOP, his very active engagement in this process makes it harder for him to distance himself from Washington. This is why Romney is very smartly avoiding the minefield of debt ceiling politics and sticking to economic and jobs themes.

COUNTDOWN TO DEFAULT: 13 DAYS. The House of Representatives last night passed the “Cut Cap and Balance” act by a vote of 234-190 that was largely divided along partisan lines. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the bill would “stop the Washington spending binge and rein in the deficits that are hurting job growth.” A coalition of conservative groups have been backing the measure, including the Club for Growth. “The House deserves credit for passing the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,” said Club President Chris Chocola. “Now, the Senate must adopt it so we can begin the process of digging ourselves out of years of spending more than we take in. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only plan that puts America on a path to fiscal stability.” However, bill now heads to the Senate where it is more than likely to fail.

So, what’s next? ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that President Obama will call Congressional leaders back to White House in next couple days — perhaps as soon as today — for more talks. White House officials Tapper notes, say the Gang of 6 gives the idea of the "big deal" new momentum. Members of the president’s team also say they're heartened by new polls indicating the public thinks Republicans need to compromise more. There is a "recognition that the House Republicans needed to get that vote out of their system," a WH official says, referring to Cut Cap and Balance vote. More on the prospects for compromise:


DEAL OR NO DEAL? THE ABC NEWS CRYSTAL BALL. According to today’s ABC News-Washington Post poll, most Americans — 54 percent — believe that Democrats and Republicans will be able to work through their differences and avoid default by the Aug. 2 deadline. We asked several members of our ABC News Congressional and White House teams the same question.

Here are their predictions:

Jonathan Karl, Senior Political Correspondent: “I am still bearish. Odds of a deal have improved slightly with the combination of McConnell's gambit, the Gang resurgence and and increasing awareness of how bad a breakdown will be.  Chances of a deal passing by August 2?  50/50. Most likely scenario?  Something half-baked passes by August 5 after everything else fails. ” 

Sunlen Miller, Senate Reporter: “I'm more optimistic than Mr. Karl. The Gang of Six's much awaited plan's debut yesterday has changed the game, with bipartisan support. While Senate leadership has admitted that parts of the plan might not be able to be scored by the CBO with enough time before the August 2 deadline for action, I think you'll see an effort to take elements of the Gang of Six and work those into the McConnell-Reid plan. I predict a deal could be reached by — or before — August 2.”

John R. Parkinson, House Reporter: “Ultimately they will compromise on some of the more egregious tax loopholes, use a bit of the ideas from the Biden talks and the Gang of Six to come up with some long-term entitlement reform, and in the end agree on $2.5 trillion in spending cuts while increasing the debt limit by $2.4 trillion.”

Jake Tapper, Senior White House Correspondent: “I generally don't like to predict the behavior of politicians, I like to study them. Like an ophiologist.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”:  ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter hear from Representative Sander Levin, D-Mich. Levin has criticized Republicans’ handling of the debt crisis, saying on his Facebook page that it shows, “the Republican Party is bad for business.” Also on the program, actor Martin Sheen. Yesterday Sheen was on the Hill to promote Drug Courts and Veteran Treatment Courts, which seek to ensure veterans get the treatment for chemical addictions. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: STEVE KING. The Iowa GOP Congressman said yesterday that President Obama can continue to pay bills that come due even after August 2, the deadline that the Treasury Department has set for default. “America is not going to default. We're just trying to scare people into being stampeded into a debt-ceiling increase. But we would hold our full faith in credit together regardless, unless the president had decided to punish America by refusing to pay our bills,” King said on Top Line.  



BACHMANN UNVEILS IOWA AD. “As Rep. Michele Bachmann returns to Iowa today, she is launching a new statewide ad there in which she reiterates her opposition to raising the country's debt limit,” ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports. “‘I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling,’ Bachmann says in the ad, called ‘Courage.’ ‘It goes completely contrary to common-sense and how I grew up in Iowa. So here I am in Congress watching these people borrow more money that we don't have so that my children can be further indebted. We have to deal with the economic reality and I have the will and I have the courage to see this through.’”

ARE MIGRAINES FAIR GAME? “When is a migraine more than a migraine? When the person afflicted is a leading presidential candidate who also happens to be a woman,” writes the Daily Beast’s Jill Lawrence and Casey Schwartz. “The same day she moved into first place for the first time in a national poll of Republican primary voters, Michele Bachmann faced a potentially game-changing story about her personal health. Coincidence? Who knows, but with success comes heightened scrutiny. She’s in the big leagues now. … The questions raised about Bachmann’s migraines have potentially major political implications. If her supporters are unsure about her health, some may look at other candidates. And Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential rival for Bachmann’s evangelical base, has another reason to get into the race. Beyond that, this could be more general setback for women among voters just getting comfortable with the idea of a woman running for president. Migraines affect three times as many women as men. The gynecology ad accompanying The Daily Caller story further reinforces the idea that migraines are a ‘women’s ailment,’ says Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University. ‘Whether the average person on the street would consider this a women’s issue or not, it just became one.’ … Bachmann’s migraines never came up in her campaigns for the House or the state Senate, according to Jacobs. But the consensus is they are fair game in a presidential campaign. The job has become so global, so demanding, that it requires not simply good health but also enormous stamina.”

PAWLENTY’S STRAW POLL STRATEGY. “An Iowa Republican operative thinks that [Tim] Pawlenty’s ‘superior’ organization could help him leapfrog over Michele Bachmann and get the approximately 3,500 votes needed for an Ames victory. The operative is dubious that Bachmann could round up enough voters,” the National Review’s Katrina Trinko writes. “In addition to organization, the Pawlenty campaign has taken several significant steps to amp up the candidate’s presence in Iowa. According to an e-mail sent out last week by campaign manager Nick Ayers, Pawlenty will spend 20 of the next 30 days in the state. Rolling out in a brand-new campaign RV, Pawlenty is doing an average of ten events a day. … Pawlenty is changing his Iowa routine. Instead of focusing on meeting influential local leaders privately and working to develop the campaign’s organization, he’s concentrating now on public, open-press events. He’s also giving more interviews to local media, speaking to editorial boards and radio and TV stations. The campaign has spent $400,000 buying airtime through the last day before Ames. Professional fliers have been shipped out in the state as well.”

PERRY SUPPORTERS BACKING OFF STRAW POLL PUSH. “Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign-in-waiting in Iowa is shifting away from a push to make a splash at the upcoming straw poll in Ames, following a ruling by the state party that it will not be allowed to purchase space on the grounds of the Aug. 13 event,” the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward notes. “‘We don't have a physical site,’ Craig Schoenfield, executive director of Americans for Rick Perry's Iowa branch, told The Huffington Post. ‘At the end of the day I don't even know that we're around Ames … I'd say it's 50/50 if we're even around.’ Schoenfield, who on Monday morning told Real Clear Politics that his group would be purchasing space on the Iowa State campus, told HuffPost that the state party informed him Monday evening that "that was not going to be permissible," even though the location under discussion was "out in a corner parking lot." A spokesman for the Iowa GOP confirmed the decision to HuffPost. … The decision has changed the Perry group's calculus about how it will approach the straw poll, which is a key early test of momentum and organization for the Republican presidential primary candidates. The Iowa GOP will finalize the straw poll ballot on Saturday, and Perry's name could end up on it. But Schoenfield said he is already diverting resources away from the event.”

NOTED: “A group of donors met in Austin and had dinner with the Texas Governor yesterday to assess the plausibility of fundraising this late in the game,” ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes. “Perry heads to California today for private meetings with potential donors in the state — his third trip to the area since June.  As Perry evaluates his funding situation, he keeps rising in the polls.  A new WSJ-NBC poll out yesterday had him with 11 percent of the vote, behind only Romney (23 percent) and Bachmann (16 percent). Perry is inching closer to a run, especially after his wife, Anita, urged him to ‘get out of your comfort zone,’ he told reporters yesterday.  He also said he has no interest in the VP slot, saying he has a better job as governor of Texas.”

WHITE HOUSE WATCH: GOING LOCAL. Today at the White House, President Obama will be interviewed by three regional stations about the deficit debate and the economy: WBNS Columbus, KABC Los Angeles and KMBC Kansas City, ABC’s Mary Bruce notes. Also on the agenda for today: President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet privately with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.



@secupp: Headed to NH to moderate first Twitter Prez debate. @TheTeaParty_net #teaparty #teacyber #tcot #politics"

@llerer: Romney's business record clashes with his campaign message – Bloomberg via @BloombergNow

@DLeonhardt: “I don't see how this happens." – @jonathanchait, continuing his grand-bargain skepticism. #GangofSix

@CourtneyCohen: Happy Birthday to @DavidChalian. Neighbor, friend, arm candy.

@kelleymc: Happy birthday @SenatorBarb! Thanks for all you do



(all times local)

* Mitt Romney speaks at a Los Angeles shopping center at 2:15 p.m. The presidential candidate's wife, Ann Romney, attends a luncheon with South Carolina Low Country GOP Groups in Bluffton, S.C. at 11:45 a.m. Ann attends an afternoon tea with the Charleston-Area National Federation of Republican Women and GOP Groups in North Charleston at 4:15 p.m.

* Jon Huntsman rolls in on his motorcycle for a public appearance at Plaza Cycle in Salt Lake City, Utah.

* Tim Pawlenty hosts a meet-and-greet at 8 a.m. in Oskaloosa, Iowa. At 11 a.m., he attends a town hall meeting in Indianola. Pawlenty visits another town hall meeting in Altoona at 1 p.m. At 4 p.m. he will stop by the facility of NRA handgun instructor James Egeland in Madrid. Then at 6:30 p.m., he will attend West Des Moines Town Hall.

* Michele Bachmann hosts a backyard chat in Norwalk, Iowa at 9 a.m. She hosts a lunchtime chat at Palmer's Deli and Market in West Des Moines at 12:20 p.m. In the evening, Bachmann will participate in the Tea Party.Net Twitter debate.

* Herman Cain speaks at the Hellenic Center in Dover, N.H., from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

* Rick Perry holds closed business meetings in California.

* Gary Johnson gives interviews in Manchester, N.H. from 8:30-10 a.m. In the afternoon, Johnson meets with the Conway Daily Sun Editorial Board. At 4:10 p.m., Johnson visits Zeb's General Store in Conway. Then from 6-9 p.m., Johnson attends a dinner party in Freedom.


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