For the past week all I’ve heard is the cost of “Ear Marks” or basically whose stealing what and when Tim Geithner speaks Wall Street falls, which to me means the Fat Cats are getting scared.
So today it was refreshing to hear Americans favor our President’s approach to fixing our economy to that of the GOP’s approach (by the way dose the GOP have one?). President Obama is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership by a margin of 2 to 1.
The Wall Street Journal poll had bad news for the Republican opposition. Americans trust the Democratic Party over the Republicans to get the country out of the recession; and more than half of all adults say that Republicans in Congress have opposed Mr. Obama’s proposals more to gain political advantage, compared with 30% who say Republicans have done so because they are standing up for their principles.
Here’s the article from the Wall Street Journal with high-lighted excerpts by me on points which I feel are important.
Obama Gets Strong Support in Poll
By LAURA MECKLER
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates.
He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.
But there are also early warning signs showing risks if his plans don’t show progress. The president’s support, while still deep, looks increasingly partisan as Republicans move away from him. Americans have more confidence in the president himself than in some of his initiatives, such as the economic stimulus package, and have some hesitation about his plans to raise taxes to expand health coverage.
“The American people trust him and like him,” Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview. “That’s how you make change possible, because it’s not threatening but accessible.”
To that end, the president emphasizes the aspects of his program that are easiest to support. On energy, he focuses on the upsides of alternative energy and the need for efficiency, glossing over the impact of punishing polluters. On health care, he focuses on the need to reduce the cost of care, with the need to help the uninsured always mentioned second.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) predicted that Mr. Obama will have trouble moving his agenda. “Everyone knows that the president remains popular, but let’s be honest: The solutions Democrats are pushing are not,” he said in a statement.
The poll found a sharp jump in the proportion of Americans who say the nation is “generally headed in the right direction” since Mr. Obama’s January inauguration, a period when economic indicators and financial markets have suggested the opposite. The survey shows that 41% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, up dramatically from 26% in mid-January, before Mr. Obama took office, and up from 12% before the election.
The number who say the country is on the “wrong track” is still higher at 44%, but given the economic conditions, pollsters expected it to be much higher.
In the past, similarly sudden improvements in national mood were recorded only after national emergencies that prompted a rallying effect, such as the 2001 terrorist attacks. In this case, the boost is being driven by Democrats and other Obama voters who are pleased with the opening weeks of the administration. Overall, two-thirds of all Americans say they feel “hopeful” about Mr. Obama’s leadership and plans, compared with 28% who say they feel “doubtful.”
Yet a record 70% are very dissatisfied with the economy, and half of all adults are dissatisfied with their own financial situation. Three in four say economic conditions have “a ways to go” before they hit bottom.
“These numbers capture where America is today — apprehensive about the future, but willing to undertake big, bold policy initiatives,” said Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducts the poll with Republican Bill McInturff.
The survey of 1,007 adults was conducted Feb. 26 to March 1 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The rise in optimism has important implications for the president’s agenda, said Mr. McInturff, who has long tracked data on national mood. Typically, he said, presidential approval ratings hover about 20 percentage points above the national “right direction” number. With that figure at 41%, he said, Mr. Obama’s approval rating, at 60%, is sustainable and high enough to allow for major victories.
“For most major social change to happen, you need a very strong president with very strong numbers,” he said.
Part of the explanation for the numbers is that few blame Mr. Obama for the bad economy, with the vast majority of Americans saying he inherited the situation. About half the people will give Mr. Obama at least two years before assigning him responsibility.
The positive numbers are driven largely by Democrats who cheer the president’s quick embrace of some items long on the party’s agenda, such as an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The last eight years we’ve been going downhill. It’s just been getting worse and worse,” said Democrat Shirley Deray, 53 years old, a housewife from Beaver Dam, Ky. She said she is optimistic about Mr. Obama. “It will take some time. So many people think he can get in there and in 60 days have it turned around, but it’s not going to work that way.”
About seven in 10 Democrats think the country is on the right track, up from 36% in January, and 78% have a “very positive” view of the president. Among African-Americans, the numbers are even higher.
But these overwhelmingly positive numbers among Democrats may be masking more tentative views of much of the rest of the country, Mr. McInturff said. Independents are more likely to see the country on the right track, though not by as large a margin. Republican views shifted slightly more negative.
“Democrats are extraordinarily supportive of their new Democratic president in a way that’s transforming the aggregate numbers,” said Mr. McInturff. “But we should be cautious because it might overstate some of the other large parts of the country that are hanging back.”
Even some groups that are supporting Mr. Obama now might be harder to hold on to. That includes 10% of the electorate who are not Democrats but say they relate to Mr. Obama. Members of this group say they are hopeful about the direction of the country, but they are less confident than others about Mr. Obama’s goals and policies. A similar dynamic is at work among those living in rural areas and small towns.
For instance, while most Americans still support his economic stimulus package, a solid majority also say it will help the economy only a little or not at all.
On health care, the poll flashed warning signs for the administration.
Forty-nine percent said they were willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone can have health insurance, compared with 66% who said the same in March 1993, when President Bill Clinton was embarking on his ultimately unsuccessful health-reform effort. That underscores why the administration is focused on cutting costs, not covering the uninsured.
There was widespread approval of Mr. Obama’s plans for Iraq, with 80% approving of his move to pull out most U.S. troops within 19 months. Two in three Americans said the U.S. has accomplished as much as can be expected in Iraq, compared with 27% who said more can be done.
And the public is mostly satisfied with the results, with 53% saying the war has been successful, up from 43% in July 2008. Sixteen percent say it is very likely there will be an all-out civil war in Iraq when U.S. troops leave, compared with 40% who thought that in June 2007.
The poll had bad news for the Republican opposition. By a margin of more than 2-1, Americans trust the Democratic Party over the Republicans to get the country out of the recession. Views of the GOP are near an all-time low. And more than half of all adults say that Republicans in Congress have opposed Mr. Obama’s proposals more to gain political advantage, compared with 30% who say Republicans have done so because they are standing up for their principles.
By a huge margin, people say there is no more bipartisanship in Washington now than in the past. For that, they are most likely to blame President George W. Bush’s administration and congressional Republicans. They put almost none of the blame on congressional Democrats or Mr. Obama.
The survey also found that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings are an all-time high, with 59% of Americans seeing her in a positive light and 22% seeing her negatively, a striking turnaround from very low ratings immediately after she and her husband left the White House.
Also enjoying good numbers is first lady Michelle Obama, with 63% positive and 8% negative ratings. In September, her negative score was 31%, but her popularity has soared with her husband’s, said Mr. Hart. “It’s a his and her brand.”
To complement the Wall Street Journal’s article here’s an old time “school room” video explaining how “money” works in our economy. Hopefully it will have the same results in the President’s Stimulus Package.
Following the journey of a five-dollar bill through many transactions, the film shows how money functions as a standard of value and future payment, a storehouse of value and a convenient medium of exchange.