Congress less popular than ever
Americans' assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance. . . .
The current results are based on a Dec. 10-12 Gallup poll, conducted as Congress is finishing work on an important lame-duck session. The session has been highlighted by the agreement on taxes forged last week by President Obama and Republicans in Congress. . . .
Frustration with the tax deal among Democrats in the general population could be a major reason for Americans' historically low approval rating of Congress. That frustration could be opposition to the bill's particulars or frustration with the Democrats in Congress opposing the president's deal. Democrats' approval of Congress is down significantly, to 16% now, from 29% in November.
There is another possibility. Say "Congress" to Democrats these days and you conjure images of Speaker John Boehner and a Republican majority.
And keep in mind that the Gallup poll was taken before there was reason for the 13 percent approval rating to drop to zero. The Post reports:
Weeks after swearing off earmarks, many senators stand to gain tens of millions of dollars for pet projects in a massive spending bill that could be their last chance at the money before a more conservative Congress begins next month.
The $1.2 trillion bill, released on Tuesday, includes more than 6,000 earmarks totaling $8 billion, an amount that many lawmakers decried as an irresponsible binge following a midterm election in which many voters demanded that the government cut spending.
"The American people said just 42 days ago, 'Enough!' . . . Are we tone deaf? Are we stricken with amnesia?" Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading earmark critic, said on the Senate floor, flipping through the 1,924-page bill as he pounded his desk.
There is good reason to pound the desk. And one wonders if Reid & Co. didn't overreach just a wee bit. I would think the public, and even the White House, might appreciate a filibuster over this showing of contempt for voters. In 1994 the Republicans lost the PR war in shutting down the government. This year, they decided, I think wisely, that a similar face-off to zero out the estate tax or eliminate the unemployment insurance extension would be a loser as well. But a threat to shut down the government over a grotesque bill lacking any semblance of discipline or respect for the voters' wishes? THAT'S a political winner.
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