|5 Signs Obama's Second Term Is In Serious Trouble|
|By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)||Nov 14, 2013, 10:23 AM|
President Obama is at one at one of the lowest points of his presidency. His poll numbers are slumping, the health care bill that he was counting on to be one of his lasting legacies has been tarnished by technical problems and even fellow Democrats are up in arms. On Thursday, he stood before the American people and apologized -- repeatedly -- about what he called the "fumbled" rollout of the health care law.
"We should have done a better job of getting that right on day one," Obama said during a White House press conference.
Even so, he added a note of optimism, predicting that "by the time we look back on this next year, that people are going to say, 'This is working well, and it's helping a lot of people.'"
Maybe, Mr. President, but until then here are five reasons why Obama's second term is in serious jeopardy:
It was supposed to be the crown jewel of his presidency, but the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has so far been a major debacle. The technical problems with the problem-plagued federal website, HealthCare.gov, have been so severe that only 26,794 people -- far fewer than expected -- signed up in the first month. Several senior members of the Obama administration, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have been dragged in front of Congressional committees to be grilled about the glitches. And the website has become the butt of jokes for late-night comedians. President Obama, himself, has been forced to apologize publicly for the botched rollout as well as to the Americans who are losing their existing health care coverage. "I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," Obama recently said in an NBC News interview. Making matters worse, this has only emboldened Republicans, many of whom want to see the law demolished entirely, handing them a powerful weapon heading into the 2014 midterm election season.
For the first time in his presidency, a majority of American voters -- 52 percent -- say President Obama is not honest and trustworthy, his lowest marks ever, according to a national Quinnipiac University poll released this week. (Just 44 percent say he is honest and trustworthy). Meanwhile, Obama's overall job approval rating has slid to a new all-time low: Voters disapprove of Obama 54 to 39 percent. In fact, President Obama's job approval rating roughly matches that of President George W. Bush at the same point in his second term.
Robert Blizzard, a pollster at Public Opinion Strategies, a well-known Republican polling firm, charted the second-term job approval rating of four presidents -- Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- as measured by Gallup. During the first two years of their second terms, both Reagan and Clinton stayed above the 50 percent mark – heading into the midterm elections with a 63 percent approval rating (Reagan, 1986) and 66 percent approval rating (Clinton, 1998). Bush, however, spent much of his second term languishing in the 30's and 40's, hovering at a 37 percent approval rating just before the 2006 midterms. Look at how closely Obama's trend line matches up with Bush's one year into his second term. Can President Obama pull himself out of the tailspin? Maybe. But he's in a deep hole.
President Obama's original promise that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan," has landed him in serious hot water -- and Democrats are distancing themselves from it. Bill Clinton said this week, "I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got." House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also chimed in: "The president was not precise and I think that was -- he should have been precise. We all should have been more precise." And now more Democrats on Capitol Hill are introducing bills to fix the Obamacare problem. And it's not just red state Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who are backing these bills. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has thrown her support behind Landrieu's bill to let people keep their healthcare plans.
Even the president, himself, seems to recognize that there's a problem. Case-in-point, the man who has been dubbed "No-Drama Obama" appears to be getting testy. As The New York Times' Michael D. Shear recently reported: "President Obama was seething. Two weeks after the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov, Mr. Obama gathered his senior staff members in the Oval Office for what one aide recalled as an 'unsparing' dressing-down. 'If I had known,' Mr. Obama said, according to the aide, 'we could have delayed the website.' Mr. Obama's anger, described by a White House that has repeatedly sought to show that the president was unaware of the extent of the website's problems, has lit a fire under the West Wing staff."
Remember immigration reform? How about gun control? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act? All are key Obama administration priorities and, for now, all have hit a brick wall on Capitol Hill. In a September interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, President Obama lamented the fact that the immigration bill is now just "sitting there in the House": "On immigration reform, for example, we got an terrific bipartisan vote out of the Senate that showed that there is a recognition from all quarters, from business, from labor, from the clergy, from farm interests, that a sensible immigration policy will grow our economy, make us stronger. So you had Democrats and Republicans in the Senate come together, come up with a bill that wasn't perfect, it wasn't my bill, but got the job done." But now Democrats and Republicans are at odds about a way forward on the issue. Gun control, which has been a top priority for the president ever since the Newtown shooting last December, looks like it will have to wait until 2014 -- or even longer. And the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and passed in the Senate, looks dead-on-arrival in the House.
ABC's Devin Dwyer and Arlette Saenz contributed reporting.