Consider this just another piece of evidence for Democratic cluelessness in the 111th Congress. While Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have spent almost a year haggling over a deeply unpopular bill to overhaul the American health-care system, Gallup says voters don’t consider that a top priority. Not surprisingly, that goes to unemployment, and the economy follows a close second:
Unemployment now stands alone as the top issue in Gallup’s latest update on the most important problem facing the country. Thirty-one percent of Americans mention jobs or unemployment, significantly more than say the economy in general (24%), healthcare (20%), or dissatisfaction with government (10%).
This month, unemployment overtook general mentions of the economy, as the percentage naming unemployment held steady at 31% while the mentions of the economy dipped from 31% to 24%. Unemployment, the economy, and healthcare have been the top three cited problems each month since last May.
The economy had ranked No. 1 in Gallup’s monthly most important problem measure since February 2008, when it overtook the Iraq war. The war in Iraq had been the top issue (or tied for the top) each month since April 2004. Thus, unemployment’s position at the top of the list marks the first time in six years that something other than Iraq or the economy in general has led Americans’ list of national concerns.
At least when Democrats kicked and screamed over the Iraq war, they were in the ballpark in terms of national priorities. That hasn’t been the case at all since Democrats took control of both ends of Capitol Hill. They spent three weeks debating the first stimulus, a couple of weeks this winter debating another, and then spent a month or so putting together a cap-and-trade bill in the House that has no chance of getting out of the Senate.
The health care bill has occupied the remainder of Congressional time and effort. Even the White House began to quail at the spectacle, promising a “hard pivot” to jobs and the economy and away from health care in early 2010. Instead, they’ve doubled down on ObamaCare, now going so far as to devise ways to “pass” the bill without taking a vote. Why? They know that a “yes” vote will be political suicide in November for a large percentage of their caucus — and that the bill probably couldn’t pass with a floor vote, at least not at the moment.
The news gets worse, too. Gallup’s poll shows that health care will be an even lower priority in the future for voters. Their performance on budgeting will precipitate a national focus on deficits:
In addition to asking about current problems facing the country, the March 4-7 poll also asked Americans to say what they think will be the most important problem facing the United States in 25 years.
The federal budget deficit is mentioned most often in this regard, by 14% of Americans, slightly more than say the economy in general (11%) and the environment (11%). This is the first time the federal budget deficit has topped the list of future problems, and indeed the first time it has exceeded 5% mentions. That likely reflects public concern over increased federal spending and expanding budget deficits.
The best that Democrats could do for themselves is to kill the bill and start looking for cuts in federal spending. They seem incapable of doing so, which is why so many of them won’t be returning in 2011. Voters are going to pick politicians who listen in the midterms, not those who plug their ears and attempt to ride their crumbling hobby horses to victory in spite of their constituents.