The First Draft: Obama’s bad news Thursday
President Barack Obama woke up Thursday to find two new polls — the NBC News/Wall Street Journal and CBS News/New York Times — showing growing public concerns over the high rate of government spending and ballooning federal deficits.
Meanwhile, his big-ticket initiative to revamp the U.S. healthcare system hit a road bump in Congress, where a key Senate committee slowed its schedule for consideration of the measure in order to find a bipartisan approach to rein in its huge projected costs — more than $1 trillion and counting.
For Obama, the news was a sign, perhaps, that the public is beginning to hold him accountable for the many thorny issues he inherited from former President George W. Bush and becoming concerned about the mounting price tag — the Congressional Budget Office estimates the federal deficit could top $1.8 trillion this fiscal year.
Obama, who had a full day of meetings at the White House and no public events until an evening fundraiser, remains personally popular but has seen his approval rating slip slightly to 56 percent, down from 61 percent in April, according to the NBC poll. Among independents it fell even more sharply, from nearly 2-to-1 to closely divided. He stayed steady at 63 percent approval in the CBS poll.
But Republican criticism might be gaining at least a toehold, with nearly 70 percent of respondents in the NBC poll saying they were worried about federal intervention in the economy, including the government’s ownership stake in General Motors and potential government involvement in healthcare.
Only 37 percent say he is taking on too many issues, with 60 percent saying he was forced to confront a big agenda because the country has so many problems.
Obama said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal he was not surprised the drumbeat of Republican attacks was having some success.
“If you want to attack a Democratic president, how are you going to attack him?” Obama said. “Well, you’re going to talk about how he wants more government and he wants to socialize medicine and he’s going to be oppressive toward business. I mean, that’s pretty standard fare.”
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Obama arrives for financial regulation announcement)