According to a new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News, the latest budget proposal from Barack Obama has about as much support as his previous two proposals. Only 52% of Democrats approve of his budget, which turns out to be twice as many as do independents:
President Obama’s courtship of Republicans hit a critical point last week when he unveiled a budget proposal pitched as an effort at compromise. But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans’ initial reactions to the framework tilting negative, with broad opposition from Republicans and little public support for a key idea to reduce increases in Social Security payments.
Overall, roughly one-third of Americans offer no opinion on Obama’s budget, but those who do, lean against it (30 percent approve; 38 percent disapprove). The negativity stems from large opposition among Republicans (63 percent) and a negative split among independents (26 percent approve; 41 percent disapprove).
Interestingly, only 52% of Democrats oppose the proposal to use chained CPI to calculate benefit increases for inflation. while more than a third support the idea (36%). More frustratingly, though, Republicans and Democrats also oppose the idea. Even with the WaPo/ABC pollster asking the question properly, noting that chained CPI would change the calculation so that “benefits increase at a slower rate” rather than defining it as a cut, Republicans oppose it 39/49 and independents 36/53.
If we can’t even stand to slow down the rate of increase in entitlement spending, we’re not going to get far in resolving the massive debt cliff toward which we’re sprinting.
The issue may be the reason why the WaPo/ABC poll finally shows Obama in the same place as most other national pollsters do on approval rating — underwater. That’s being driven by Obama’s rapid decline on economic policy … again:
President Obama’s overall approval rating is stuck at 50 percent among all Americans, and has slipped below 50 percent among registered voters for the first time since he won reelection five months ago — 47 percent of registered voters now approve, and 49 percent disapprove. As has been the case for the bulk of the past three years, most — 53 percent — disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy. …
The poll also found continued pessimism about the job market and spreading frustration with the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. Fully two-thirds say jobs are difficult to find in their communities — down from its heights during the recession, but unmoved over the past year. Disapproval of the sequester cuts has ticked up four percentage points over the past month, and the percentage saying the cuts have effected them personally is up eight points.
Negativity about the economy — barely more than three in 10 even see progress on the jobs front — continues to damp Americans’ enthusiasm for their political leaders.
Both of these trends portend a very difficult year for Obama, and for Democrats in general. As I note in my column for The Week, the dishonest approach in Obama’s budget to tax increases and a new effort to resist spending cuts of any kind by Democrats on the other end of Capitol Hill will reduce the party to nothing but tax-and-spend absolutists:
McClatchy reported yesterday, as Americans rushed to file taxes already owed, that Obama only told half of the story on tax hikes in his budget. The actual total for all tax hikes and “fees” in the Obama budget comes to $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years, not the $580 billion announced by Obama in promoting his new proposal. This includes $75 billion in cigarette-tax hikes to fund expanded pre-school education, despite the dubiousness of claims that such warehousing of pre-school-age children actually improves their education. TIME‘s Joe Klein trotted out this inconvenient truth about the urge to spend more on Head Start despite evidence that it is “nearly worthless” as an example of the incompetence of the Obama administration. …
Nor does it help that Obama turned out to be just as sensitive to legal reductions in tax burdens as the opponents his campaign castigated all of last year. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough vented his disgust over the revelation that the Obamas reduced their effective tax rate to 18.4 percent for 2012, rather than set an example for the rest of the nation by eschewing deductions to pay the same rate as their staff. “He wants to jack tax rates up to 39 percent,” Scarborough told viewers, “and if you live in Connecticut or New York or Illinois or California, you’re paying over 50 percent in taxes after you take the local, the state, and the national! And Barack Obama, class warrior, is playing 18 percent in taxes. … Does ‘limousine liberal’ apply in this case?” …
With that it mind, it’s worth pointing out the newest effort from Democrats at the other end of Capitol Hill. Attempting to take a page from Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform, Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) have started a pledge of their own — to vote against any kind of cuts to entitlement programs. The pledge comes in response to one of the few lucid signs in Obama’s budget, a switch to chained CPI as the calculation for annual increases in Social Security benefits. (Only in Washington can a reduction in future spending increases be called a “cut,” by the way, which is also the case with Obama’s proclaimed “spending cuts” in a budget that will spend more than any of his others.)
The slide underwater will continue, and may accelerate, as more of this budget becomes known.