Congress has had an approval rating hovering in the teens for several years now. That’s not new. But as Washington stumbles into the second week of the shutdown, concern for a dysfunctional government has reached record levels.
Since 2008, the economy and jobs have been the top priorities for the American people — a statistic commonly cited by lawmakers when they’re trying to push for legislation. But now, according to a new Gallup Poll, government dysfunction is the most important problem facing the United States. At 33 percent, this is the highest percentage since the poll was started in 1939.
Other priorities for Americans sit well below this mark, including the economy (19 percent), unemployment (12 percent), the deficit (12 percent), and health care (12 percent).
And this level of concern for the dysfunction in Washington is substantially higher than it was during the last government shutdown in 1996. When Gallup polled Americans then, just 17 percent listed Washington’s problems as the top issue for them. The budget and deficit were still the top issue, at 28 percent.
But will this concern last?
Last month, Syria captured peak interest at 8 percent, but now has fallen back down to 1 percent as the threat of U.S. military action has faded. But this concern for the government could last for several months. In September, 16 percent of Americans thought the dysfunction was the top issue. Now that number doubled. Additionally, approval for Congress is just 1 percentage point higher than record lows.
Americans have lost confidence in their political leaders. With the debt-ceiling deadline just days away, and a possible default imminent, the concern for Washington’s dysfunction could rise — along with deeper concerns for the economic consequences of lawmakers’ inaction.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”