June 18, 2009 -- A flurry of polls show President Obama's personal popularity remains high, with few Americans blaming him for the financial crisis. But the polls also show the President is losing public support for his economic policies.
Obama's spending proposals, plus a record-breaking national debt inherited from President Bush that is projected to grow, could be the President's political Achilles heel and one reason he often underlines fiscal prudence as a top priority.
The percentage of people in a Pew Research Center poll out today who expressed approval for the way Obama is handling the economy slipped to 52 percent from 60 percent in April.
Recent NBC/Wall Street Journal and CBS/New York Times polls showed that nearly six in 10 people said the Obama administration is not doing enough to reduce the deficit. The Pew poll showed about the same percentage disapprove of the government's spending billions to keep General Motors and Chrysler in business.
"They worry that government is going to be too involved in the economy and the everyday lives of the American people," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center.
"They think he's bringing the right energy, the right general approach to dealing with the problem, but they have reservations about some of the ways he's going about it," Kohut added.
The White House is aware that spending and the deficit could be dangerous issues for next year's mid-term elections, especially if more economic problems, such as inflation, arise.
"I think the American people are rightly frustrated with where the economy is and how we ended up where we did," the President's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said today when asked about the dipping poll numbers regarding the economy.
That concern may be one of the reasons why the President increasingly is pointing out that structural problems in the budget, such as upwardly spiraling health care costs, are behind the deficit far more than his spending plans are.
On June 11, the President called the growing cost of Medicare and Medicaid one of the "biggest threats to our federal deficit."
"If you're worried about spending and you're worried about deficits, you need to be worried about the cost of health care," he said.
As Republican critics and others continue saying the U.S. cannot afford the President's health care proposal, which likely will cost more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years, the President will likely continue to say we cannot afford not to do it.