6 Reasons Why Obama’s Popularity Is Likely to Plummet
Photo Credit: AFP
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It’s not just the scandal fever that’s invaded Washington, where the Obama White House is dodging accusations that the IRS went after the Tea Party, or it lied in the fog of war in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the embassy in Libya, or the Justice Department went too far in spying on Associated Press to find out who was leaking details about the the CIA’s secret wars.
Obama’s popularity seems destined to slide downhill as his second term unfolds, even if polls taken just before this latest political moment show that Obama’s core supporters are still with him. Looking beyond this week’s accusatory headlines, there are a handful of single issues that will resonate among key Democratic constituencies and big-picture economic issues that seem destined to push Obama’a ratings down. He may not end his presidency in the low 20s like George W. Bush. But it’s not a stretch to say that last week’s Obama’s 51 percent approval ratings may be the best that he will see this term.
Progressives already know the sting of disappointment. His second term has been filled with frustrations, posing the question of just how weak can the White House be when it comes to domestic policy? Gun control is stalled. Immigration reform is in the hands of Republicans obsessed with border security and lifting quotas for low-wage workers. The Keystone pipeline appears headed for approval, despite climate change worries. The so-called sequester has begun, a political blunder that cuts federal spending but especially hurts poorer people.
“We’re not in a ‘blame Obama’ moment,” pollster John Zogby said late last week. “It’s hard for him to look too bad when the other side looks so much worse.”
That was before last Friday, when the IRS apologized to the Tea Party before the House Ways and Means Committee, other House Republicans ginned up Benghazi ‘whistleblowers,’ and the Justice Department confirmed its wiretapping of the AP.
Looking ahead, there are range of economic issues—with the biggest concerning how the recovery could continue to stumble due to federal spending cuts and possible hits from Obamacare—that could drive Obama’s approval numbers very far down. Last week, Zogby called Obama’s 51 percent rating “almost bragging rights.”
“You have to start with the fact that 42 percent hate his guts,” he said.
What Could Unravel?
Obama’s second term has not yet devolved from hope to nope, but let’s look at what will shape it—where key decisions do not all lie in the hands of uncompromising Republicans who pay no real price for their obstructionism on Capitol Hill.
The biggest game-changers are economic issues, starting with the two pillars that elderly Americans rely on—Social Security and health care. The current generation of people 55 and over is one of the first in many decades that does not have pensions and retirement plans. It is these entitlements that the GOP wants to cut—and Obama has gone along.
1. Social Security. Obama made a bad blunder with the sequester, where put cuts on the table that are now damaging social welfare programs. His explanation that he did not expect the sequester to take effect makes his offer to put Social Security’s cost-of-living increase formula on the table even more baffling. First of all, Social Security is fiscally sound into the foreseeable future. But more importantly, cutting cost of living increases does nothing for elderly people who are not covering their expenses now. And it doesn’t exactly send a resassuting message to baby boomers who don’t have retirement accounts and are struggling to make ends meet.