Why Barack Obama could be America’s last big government president
By Nile Gardiner
This week Gallup is unveiling a series of in-depth analyses of “Americans’ views on the role and performance of government” based on its annual Governance Survey. The first overview, released on Monday, is a real-eye opener. According to Gallup, Americans are expressing historic levels of negativity towards the US government, with “a record high 81 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed,” including 65 per cent of Democrats, and 92 per cent of Republicans. Gallup concludes by stating that “Americans’ various ratings of political leadership in Washington add up to a profoundly negative review of government,” ratings which are likely to get worse during the lead up to next year’s presidential elections.
Congress’s job performance takes a real hammering at 82 per cent disapproval, with 69 per cent of Americans declaring they have “little or no confidence” in the legislative branch of government (consisting of the US Senate and House of Representatives), an all-time high, and up from 63 per cent a year ago. Gallup’s polling also finds that more than half of Americans “have little or no confidence in the men and women who seek or hold elected office.” Congressional disapproval is even higher in some other recent polls – 84 per cent according to CBB/Opinion Research, and 87 per cent in the latest Associated Press/GfK survey. The RealClear Politics average now stands at 83.3 per cent disapproval, with just 13.5 per cent approval for Congress.
While not as low as the ratings for Congress, public satisfaction with the federal government has also plummeted. According to Gallup:
• 57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010.
• Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago.
Most strikingly of all, Gallup finds that:
• 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.
These figures pose huge problems for Barack Obama ahead of the presidential election in November 2012. Obama’s declining presidency has become synonymous with the image of big government, from spiralling budget deficits and out of control federal spending to massive taxpayer funded bailouts and increasing regulations on businesses and healthcare. Even 28 per cent of Democrats agree with the 61 per cent of Republicans (and 57 per cent of independents) who now view the federal government as “a threat” to the rights and freedoms of the American people. It is little wonder that a mere 11 per cent of US voters now describe themselves as liberal on fiscal issues in Rasmussen polling, compared to 44 per cent who call themselves conservative and 40 per cent who describe themselves as moderate.
The United States is undergoing one of the biggest political revolutions in its post-war history, and perhaps the most important since Ronald Reagan, with an emphatic rejection of the idea that government knows best when it comes to handling key domestic issues, especially relating to the economy. President Obama, whose administration has practically worshipped at the trough of big government, looks spectacularly out of touch with a clear majority of the American people. The highly interventionist liberal experiment of the last two and a half years has been a spectacular failure, with 14 million Americans out of work, sliding consumer confidence, collapsing house prices, and falling stock markets.
This is why Barack Obama could well end up being the last big government president of the United States, a nation that simply cannot afford the lavish excesses of an imperious presidency that drains the pay-checks of hard-working Americans with impunity and reckless abandon. The historic loss of faith in the federal government under Obama has combined with growing support across America for a return to the limited government ideals of the Founding Fathers. Nothing is ever certain in politics, but it is hard to see how a future president can shamelessly adopt the same borrow, bailout and spend approach zealously adopted by the current administration, without extremely damaging consequences for the United States.