Recent reports show the President’s approval rating reaching its lowest point of this presidency (42%) while his disapproval rating is over 50% for the first time. Meanwhile, the Republicans have their largest lead ever over Democrats in a generic ballot matchup. http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/114735-obama-sharpens-rhetoric-in-campaign-push-as-approval-ratings-fall It may just be that the electorate has perceived a difference between how this Administration has presented its policies and how they have actually been carried out; the public seemingly does not approve of this gap between rhetoric and reality.
A case in point may be seen in the attempt to “sell” the stimulus package to the American people and the failure of such attempts to influence the President’s approval figures in any positive way. The American Relief and Recovery Act (ARRA) was promoted as an emergency measure to boost the economy and prevent unemployment from exceeding 8%. It was so urgently needed that no time was given for a complete review of the voluminous bill prior to a vote. Since then, unemployment not only exceeded 8%, it reached 10% and still hovers at over 9%. And of the “urgently” needed investment, 18 months later much of the money remains unspent. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/13/AR2010081306058.html (Arguably, it is a good thing that much of the money has not been spent yet, but the fact underscores how the package was not the immediate, emergency boost it was promoted to be).
With the economy still sagging and Americans continuing to feel uncertain about this Nation’s economic future, the President has now tried to re-package the ARRA as a steady, long term solution that will take time to eventually work. Of course this begs the question that, if indeed the stimulus was designed to be a gradual, long-term endeavor, why the rush to pass it? Would it not have been better, and more transparent as the President promised his administration would be, to review the bill project-by-project to ensure maximum effect for the money spent? Shouldn’t the merits of the huge endeavor been more carefully scrutinized? And as to the claim that it has created more jobs, House Minority Leader John Boehner recently cited a survey which found that more Americans believed Elvis Presley is still alive than believed the stimulus created more jobs.http://gopleader.gov/UploadedFiles/Boehner_Stuck_on_Stimulus_Policy_Report.pdf
Another case in point is the passage of Health care Reform, with the promises that negotiations would be broadcast by CSPAN, that the President himself would review the bill “line by line” with Congress, and that no new taxes would be enacted. What actually transpired was back-room deals with special interests, special ear marks to buy votes by hesitant members of Congress (such as the “Cornhusker kick-back” and the “Louisiana Purchase”) no review at all of the over 2000 page legislation by the President to Congress, a vote via the reconciliation process after voluminous amendments that the American people had no way of reviewing before their representatives voted on it, and an unprecedented mandate by the federal government over all residents of this country. To date, the state of Missouri overwhelmingly voted to overturn the health care bill, and 36 others are considering similar legislation. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62I3S020100319 In addition, fourteen state have sued the federal government and polls have shown the majority of Americans would like to see the health care reform bill repealed. www.usmoneytalk.com/business/healthcare-insurance-bill-reform-polls-show-59-want-repeal-908/
The approach to governance appears to be one of “shock and awe” where large, cumbersome legislation is pushed through Congress with insufficient vetting of the issues, and before the public could appreciate or digest the implications of the changes being enacted. As a result, the electorate cannot meaningfully exercise its right to have a voice in what new policies are being passed into law nor scrutinize their local representatives’ actions on bills being passed. This is a far cry from the promise of being the “most transparent” Administration in history. The only feasible way for the public to regain its rightful authority over its elected representatives is to remove from office those politicians who are carrying out these tactics without regard for the will of the people, and replace them with new legislators who will enact laws in a more thoughtful and responsible manner. Given the recent approval rating and polling numbers, such a move may be afoot.