Debris in West Pittston, Pa., in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee early this… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)
More than four out of five Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being run, according to a Gallup survey reporting a resounding thumbs-down for the federal government as it prepares to deal with another round of budget challenges.
As the Senate prepares to vote on Monday in yet-another drama threatening to shut down the government over spending issues, Gallup is reporting a record 81% of those surveyed saying they are dissatisfied with how the nation is governed. That dismay with government crosses political lines, with 65% of Democrats saying they are dissatisfied, joining 92% of Republicans.
The results, part of an annual Gallup survey on governance, were released Monday. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,017 adults Sept. 8-11. The margin of error was given as plus or minus four percentage points.
According to the survey, 82% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job and 69% have little or no confidence in the legislative branch of government, a new high. In 2010, 63% said they had no confidence in lawmakers.
Nearly three out of five of those surveyed, or 57%, said they have no confidence that Congress can solve domestic problems, up from a previous high of 53% in 2010.
The lack of confidence in Washington comes as Congress and President Obama, whose own poll numbers have also fallen through the summer, continue to be locked in what outsiders see as a dance of inaction. Obama has been campaigning in recent days against Congress, holding rallies that are punctuated with cries of “Pass this bill,” a reference to Obama’s proposed jobs program.
Republicans continue to focus on debt reduction and tax cuts, issues they hope will win them the Senate and the presidency in next year's elections while keeping them in charge of the House. This week, the government once again is facing a shutdown unless a spending bill can be passed in time. The Senate has scheduled a test vote Monday on a stopgap measure.
The bill would cost about $4 trillion, but the sticking point is whether to offset the cost of disaster relief with some spending cuts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it has $175 million in its coffers to pay for the tabs from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Republicans want to include $1.6 billion in spending cuts to partly pay for disaster relief while Democrats oppose any cuts, arguing that emergency aid should not have to be offset.
Some Republicans, including governors of states needing the aid, have called on Congress to just pass disaster relief without the offset. Even among Senate Republicans, there are concerns.
“The gridlock and partisanship in Washington right now is disgusting,” said Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who is expected to face a tough re-election campaign in a normally Democratic state.
“We have people in Massachusetts and across the country who need disaster assistance right now, but this latest episode of partisan politics threatens to hold back relief from those who need it most,” he said in a statement released Monday. “It’s time for people on both sides to stop bickering and work together on policies that will get our economy going. We are Americans first.”