After a fairly smooth opening, President Barack Obama faces new concerns among the American public about the budget deficit and government intervention in the economy as he works to enact ambitious health and energy legislation, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
These rising doubts threaten to overshadow the president's personal popularity and his agenda, in what may be a new phase of the Obama presidency.
As it turns out, people like Obama, approve of the job he's doing (though there's a drop with independents), and approve of his health care and SCOTUS moves.
There's good news for the administration, too, including tentative support for Mr. Obama's health-care plan and approval of his nominee for the Supreme Court. The public seems more optimistic about the country's economic future than it did a few weeks earlier, and Americans are still more likely to blame the last administration for the deficit.
What don't they like? Deficits. Auto bailouts. And the GOP. They really don't like the GOP (my bold).
-- 60% view Barack Obama favorably, which is down four points from April
-- 26% view Dick Cheney favorably, which is up eight points from April
-- 24% view Nancy Pelosi favorably, which is down seven points from April
-- 25% hold a positive view of the Republican Party, which is an all-time low for it in the poll
-- 45% hold a positive view of the Democratic Party
Back to the WSJ on the very important issue of health care, and take a close look at this (my bold):
On health care, the public remains open to persuasion. Without being told anything specific about the Obama plan in the survey, about a third of people said it's a good idea, about a third said it's a bad idea and the rest had no opinion. When given several details of his approach, 55% said they favored it, versus 35% who were opposed.
There was also support for the Democratic push to let people sign up for a public health-care plan that would compete with private companies, one of the toughest issues in the health-care debate. Three in four people said a public plan is extremely or quite important. But when told the arguments for and against the plan, a smaller portion, 47%, agreed with arguments in support of the plan, with 42% agreeing with the arguments against it.
At the same time, nearly half the participants said it was very or somewhat likely that their employer would drop private coverage if a public plan were available.
As for how to pay for the package, estimated at more than $1 trillion over 10 years, the public favors proposals to require all Americans to get insurance, to raise taxes on the rich and, to a lesser extent, to require all but the smallest businesses to offer insurance or pay into a fund.
But majorities oppose plans to tax health benefits, even if the taxes only apply to particularly generous plans. The public is divided about cuts to Medicare.
This is no slam dunk, but there is plenty of reason for optimism and good reason to remind the balky Senate about the importance of the public option. Without it, this isn't reform. However, the fact that everything needs to be paid for is not without notice.
As for General Motors, people are willing to buy, despite an 18/47 positive/negative rating for GM.
There was some good news for General Motors, despite the widespread antipathy to using taxpayer money to aid the company. More than half the participants said they are considering or have recently considered buying an American car. Of those people, 40% said the recent problems of the U.S. auto industry make them more likely to buy American. Just 14% said it made them less likely.
They just don't want their tax money going that way. As for approval numbers, from MSNBC:
According to the poll, 60 percent view Obama favorably, versus just 29 percent who see him in a negative light. Also, three-quarters of the public say they like him personally, and that number includes 27 percent who don’t like his policies.
But the president’s overall approval rating is at 56 percent, which is down five percentage points from April.
The drop mainly comes from independents, who backed Obama by 60 percent to 31 percent in April, but approve of him now by a 46-44 clip.
There's work to be done, and a "jury's out" rather than "I like Republicans" attitude from indies. And for all of us, passing health reform - real reform - is more important than ever. What voters want to see is the President's policies work.
see also Drdemocrat's rec diary.