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Congressional Insiders Poll

Click here to see how prominent bloggers responded to these questions.

Q: Grade President Obama's handling of health care reform.

Democrats (36 votes)


Average grade = B-

A               19 percent
B               50 percent
C               28 percent
D                0 percent
F                0 percent
  [volunteered]  3 percent




"Given the huge challenges facing Obama in his first six months, the progress on health reform is pretty remarkable. Sixteen years after the last big attempt to reform health care, we're closer than ever to getting it done. And that is largely due to the efforts of this president. He gets an A for his effort, and he'll deserve an A-plus if he pulls it off."

"At this critical stage, he's right to get more personally involved."

"The president's push for a public health care option is exactly what voters want -- 76 percent of them."

"Appreciate his commitment to making sure we get this done for the American people."



"He is a great salesman, but we needed him out there way before this. Also, what is the rush? As long as we do it this year, we will be fine."

"This is the president's main domestic agenda item. He needs to go Lyndon Johnson on members who are thwarting him."

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"He is entering the fray at the right time and has a good chance of closing the deal, but the economy is a millstone on new initiatives."

"Well-calibrated interactions with Congress. Public game must now be smart, intense, and sustained."

"It's a tough climb, which is why reform has failed for decades. But the president has stakeholders at the table and is closer to reform than ever. The test from here will be to see if he is flexible on deadlines and revenue raisers."

"But he shouldn't have taken single-payer off the table!"


"Allowed Republicans to again get out in front of the messaging cycle and allowed House Democrats to put forward a politically toxic bill that feeds directly into that Republican message."

"His job is more than cheerleading and stamping his feet. He should have actually proposed legislation rather than allow Congress to draft its own version on a blank slate."

"He waited too long before getting tough with Congress. His ground troops failed to show up."

"Right now Obama earns a C, but he still has a chance to raise his grade by working hard in summer school."

Q: Grade President Obama's handling of health care reform.

Republicans (40 votes)

Average grade = D-

A    0 percent
B    5 percent
C   20 percent
D   33 percent 
F   43 percent



"Excellent on message. Didn't learn from stimulus mistake: Congress is too liberal to be left alone to shape reform America will accept."

"He has the outline of a bill and is moving toward a final product he can claim victory on."


"The president started with an A. Huge slippage, especially with [the Congressional Budget Office] telling the harsh financial truth. Next week could be a D. The trend is not positive for him."


"He has failed to craft a bill that that holds down costs, improves care, excites the public, or attracts any Republican support. He may win because he has big enough majorities to muscle something through, but it is going to be ugly. Republicans win by losing close."

"Ramming through a partisan bill that won't work is not popular. And it didn't have to be this way."

"He said we can't continue in our current system as prices continue to soar, yet he adds a new government program which he doesn't pay for. Am I missing something?"

"Poor messaging; poorer execution."


"My-way-or-the-highway didn't work for the stimulus, and it won't work for health care. Rejecting all Republican ideas could be a significant miscalculation for his young presidency."

"Overpromising defies common sense and eliminates jobs."

"The CBO completely imploded any realistic hopes the administration had to get a health care plan passed by August."

"Since when is the president handling health care reform? That's news to Waxman/Baucus."

"When is someone going to just admit that Obama, [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel, and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi are just making it up as they go along?"

"He doesn't know the specifics of what's in the bill."

"Abject failure."

Q: Grade congressional Republicans' effectiveness so far this year as the "loyal opposition."

Democrats (36 votes)

Average grade = D+

A              6 percent
B              3 percent
C             36 percent
D             25 percent
F             28 percent
Volunteered*   3 percent


*"Nothing loyal about their opposition."



"They have effectively demonstrated their opposition, but will continue to pay the price at the polls if they are viewed as obstructing progress."


"Republicans are beginning to find their message in opposing our agenda, much like we did when we were in the minority."


"The grade would be lower just based on their own efforts. But, on occasion, they do allow Democrats to take the bait and hurt themselves."

"They're good at being obstructionists, but poor at offering alternatives."

"They get an A in 'opposition' and an F in 'loyal.' With no leaders and no ideas, they have done the only thing they can: oppose everything."

"Like the kids in the back of the class that don't want to actually work for a grade, they haven't come up with any new ideas about fixing health care or the economy. They're just sitting there throwing spitballs and hoping Obama fails."

"Too much ideology; too little ideas."


"It's beyond a Democratic talking point: They really are the Party of No, especially in the House. Their approval ratings remain low because the American people can see they're not interested in working together to find policy solutions. They're just engaged in constant political theater."

"'Disloyal opposition' is more like it -- trying to make policies fail and hurt the country to their political advantage."


"Not good at all. They seem lost. The Newt [Gingrich] revolution seemed to be well planned. This looks more like an attempt at anarchy."

"Motions to adjourn will just leave them adjourned as a political party."

"If Americans were actually aware of their tactics, they would think they were all clowns."

Q: Grade congressional Republicans' effectiveness so far this year as the "loyal opposition."

Republicans (40 votes)

Average grade = B-

A   23 percent
B   55 percent
C   18 percent
D    0 percent
F    5 percent



"Though Obama has been making it easy, they have held their folks together, stuck to a clear message, and are starting to penetrate the American electorate with a positive alternative agenda."

"A record-setting marathon of one-minutes is proof."

"[White House Chief of Staff] Rahm [Emanuel] should have said the poorly focused stimulus rescued the GOP."

"As good as it gets in the deep minority."


"The energy is on the Republican side of the aisle right now, and the American people are with us."

"Republicans just need to be an acceptable alternative to the spending orgy the Democrats are on."

"They united early, they have prevented the Democrats from running over them, they are earning back their mantle of fiscal responsibility, and their tone has been respectful and consistent."

"You have to grade us on a curve, but after the 2008 elections, the party has slowed some of the Democrats' worst ideas and forced so-called moderate Democrats to pick sides in tough fights, i.e., cap-and-trade."

"I would have said C before cap-and-trade; but since that vote, we have hit full stride in terms of framing the key issues."


"Scouting report: good fielding, no hitting. Capitalizing well on Democrat mistakes, but no offensive strategy."

"Weak start, but finally starting to get traction with the American people (with helpful fumbling by Obama & Pelosi)."


"Dumb and dumber."

National Journal Insiders

Democratic Congressional Insiders Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Christopher Dodd, Edward Kennedy, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester; Reps. Jason Altmire, Robert Andrews, Michael Arcuri, Tammy Baldwin, Melissa Bean, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Marion Berry, Rick Boucher, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, Chris Carney, James Clyburn, Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Artur Davis, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Phil Hare, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Steve Israel, Frank Kratovil, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Kendrick Meek, Jim Moran, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Mark Schauer, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, John Spratt, Pete Stark, John Tanner, Ellen Tauscher, Bennie Thompson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, and Peter Welch.

GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, Jim Bunning, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, Roy Blunt, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Michael Castle, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, David Dreier, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte, Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Pete Hoekstra, Bob Inglis, Darrell Issa, Peter King, Jack Kingston, Mark Kirk, John Kline, Christopher Lee, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Adam Putnam, Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Peter Roskam, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, John Shadegg, Adrian Smith, Mark Souder, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, and Joe Wilson.

This article appears in the July 25, 2009 edition of National Journal Magazine Contents.

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