NEW YORK (MainStreet) — President Obama isn’t the only one facing criticism and bad reviews. Ratings for Congress, both political parties and Congressional leaders are low. Some 58% of U.S. adults give Congress a rating of poor, according to a recent Gallup poll.
“The approval rating for Congress as a whole has witnessed a sustained drop over the past few decades,” said Jamie McKown, who holds the James Russell Wiggins chair of Government and Policy at the College of the Atlantic in Maine.
About 89% of those polled rated the economy as an extremely important issue for Congress to handle, 73% cited Social Security and medical care, 57% chose the distribution of income and wealth and 62% mentioned taxes.
“It is possible that we could attribute this erosion in approval rating to other factors that have less to do with the policies Congress has or has not enacted and more to do with how and under what conditions Americans come to acquire information about Congress, what it is doing and how it is portrayed,” McKown told MainStreet.
Economic topics of concern to both Democrats and Republicans include the impact of government policies on the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage and immigration reform.
“A good place to start would be to secure our southern border and enforce our immigration laws, which would slow the rate at which our labor pool is being artificially expanded by illegal immigrants and provide better employment opportunities for American citizens,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator with the Tea Party Patriots.
While immigration policy is a controversial topic, political parties agree on at least one thing and that is their displeasure with Congress. Among Republicans, 54% give Congress a rating of poor compared to 66% of Independents and 53% of Democrats.
“There are always other forces out there keeping Congress from making headway on items,” McKown said.
Some 55% of those polled gave Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio negative ratings for the job he’s doing compared to 52% for Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. Less than one in five give Minority Leader Pelosi positive ratings while 13% give Speaker Boehner positive ratings.
“In Congress, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has taken a hard-line stance and is preventing votes on House bills that could really help struggling Americans,” Martin told MainStreet.
Critics note that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected a GOP proposal to revive tax cuts and that Republicans countered by refusing to vote for the energy efficiency bill.
“The Republican Party is in a civil war among three factions that include establishment Republicans who simply want to make the welfare state work efficiently, social Conservatives and limited-government Republicans who favor freedom,” said Dr. Edward Hudgins, director of advocacy and senior scholar with the Atlas Society.
High expectations may be at the center of at least some negative reviews of America’s political process.
“There's a handful of working days remaining for Congress this session, and it's unrealistic to expect anything significant by the end of the year,” Martin said.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet