Nearly two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll disapprove of President Barack Obama’s performance during his first term in office. The plurality—44 percent—say they strongly disapprove.
On Monday, Obama will be sworn in for his second term. Four years ago, when he took the oath of office as the nation’s 44th president, his biggest immediate challenge was confronting the country’s most severe financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now his top looming challenge is to reach an agreement with Congress to raise the country’s $16.4 trillion federal debt ceiling; failure to do so, some economists say, could lead to another financial crisis and recession. Obama wants lawmakers to increase the nation’s borrowing limit without linking the action to spending cuts.
More than two-thirds of respondents are opposed to Congress raising the nation’s debt ceiling without tying the increase to spending cuts. Some 88 percent of Republicans are opposed, compared with 37 percent of Democrats.
In a new Washington Post-ABC poll of Americans, 58 percent of respondents said the debt limit and spending cuts should be treated as separate issues.
A majority of RBJ Daily Report readers in January 2009 thought Obama would do an excellent or good job as president. In this week’s poll, 53 percent of respondents expect Obama to do a poor job in his second term. Among respondents who said they are Democrats, 40 percent think he’ll do an excellent job, compared with 13 percent who answered poor. By contrast, 71 percent of Republicans say Obama will do a poor job, and just 4 percent say he’ll do an excellent job.
In the Washington Post-ABC poll, 53 percent said they were optimistic about the policies Obama will pursue in his second term.
Roughly 890 readers participated in this week’s Snap Poll, which was conducted Jan. 14 and 15.
Overall, what is your opinion of President Barack Obama’s performance during his first term in office?
Strongly approve: 11%
Strongly disapprove: 44%
Strongly approve: 3%
Strongly disapprove: 61%
Strongly approve: 31%
Strongly disapprove: 10%
What are your expectations for Obama’s second term?
He will do an excellent job: 15%
He will do a good job: 18%
He will do a fair job: 15%
He will do a poor job: 53%
He will do an excellent job: 4%
He will do a good job: 7%
He will do a fair job: 19%
He will do a poor job: 71%
He will do an excellent job: 40%
He will do a good job: 38%
He will do a fair job: 8%
He will do a poor job: 13%
Should Congress raise the nation’s debt ceiling without tying the increase to spending cuts?
What is your political affiliation?
It’s hard to see how Obama can lower the bar much further, but I’m confident that he’ll find a way.
Given the conditions he inherited, he did a good job during his first term. There are some issues I wish he had pushed harder for, like ending the war and achieving a single-payer health care system. Since he doesn’t need to worry about re-election, perhaps he can push harder for greater reform. I’d like to see a strong push for campaign finance reform, a very large reduction in military spending and sharper focus on education reform. I’d like to see him lead Congress to becoming more bipartisan and less intransigent on all fiscal issues.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
People don’t seem to understand that the debt ceiling has nothing to do with future spending. It pertains to the money that Congress has already spent through legislation. Now they have to pay it back. It has nothing to do with the president, either. He cannot spend money; only Congress can. They spent it; now pay for it!
—J. Brown, Rochester
The overwhelming support shown by this last election has given our president a mandate to see through on his policies. Still, I believe that the character of this great leader will show through as he works across the aisle and works with members of both parties to improve our economy and restore the world’s respect for peace, justice and the American way! Then, I expect he will announce that pigs will fly, my tax refund is in the mail and everyone will be guaranteed a job.
The answer to the question of whether Congress should raise the debt ceiling “without tying the increase to spending cuts” lies within the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is very clear and it reads as follows: “Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” It appears to me that if Congress is to do its job properly, they must raise the debt ceiling separate and apart from all other issues and then deal with future spending cuts. The purpose of this amendment is obvious: America should not play chicken with its good faith and credit.
Why would round two be any different? Where are the checks and balances?
The best contribution this president can make during his second term is to resign from office. His incontinent spending habits and class warfare approach to problem-solving are bankrupting our country. The citizenry are taxed enough already. Stop borrowing and spending.
—Bill Simpson, Victor
The debt ceiling is like when your basement is full of sewage water. To fix the problem, you can either raise the floor or pump out the sewage.
—Jeff McSpadden, McSpadden Heating and Cooling Inc.
Although Congress should approve raising the debt ceiling, doing so should not be seen as support for the status quo on spending and the tax code. The bottom line is we have to pay our bills. The president has to accept that spending is a problem and Congress needs to work together to simplify the tax code and come up with an approach to reduce our country’s debt. The plan needs to include spending cuts and closing tax loopholes. I hear every day about a balanced approach. A balanced approach is not $2 or $3 of tax and $1 of spending, or vice versa. All 536 of our federally elected officials continue to prove their dysfunction. Politics needs to find its way to the back seat and our elected officials need to put their love for this country back up front. These people are running for office the day after they are elected, and that is part and parcel to the problem. I believe term limits to be a key role in getting Congress to focus on working toward solutions and being less focused on politics.
—Rob Anderson, president, Anderson-VanHorne Insurance & Financial Services
President Obama left no footprints in his first term, aside from the health care law. The job requires sustained effort across a multitude of fronts, and he didn’t look equal to the task in his first term. Hopefully he can hit a stride in the next year or two.
Debt ceiling brouhaha is a Republican red herring. Debt ceiling was raised many times during W.’s terms, and we never saw it in the news.
—C. Lewis, Perinton
I think President Obama will attempt to reach out to the Republicans to address the nation’s debt. I do believe the extremes of both parties will make this very difficult. President Clinton often says the art of negotiation is to find those things you can agree upon and build on that. We now seem to find the things we disagree upon and go downhill.
—Al Schnucker, Schnucker Packaging Inc.
I expect the following in Obama’s second term: Lack of willingness to compromise resulting in gridlock that he will blame on the Republicans; continued huge deficits that without spending cuts will force Obama to redefine who the "wealthy" is from those earning above $400,000 to something lower, perhaps $100,000 per year or less, so that their taxes can be increased; the EPA unleashed on the global economy that will harm it significantly.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield
Obama is economically illiterate yet he demands we let him spend any amount he wants on whatever, and put it all on a credit card with no limit. Democrats comply by passing "continuing resolutions" and haven’t the guts to propose a balanced budget or any spending cuts. We should all just quit our jobs and sign up government checks, food stamps, welfare, disability, free HUD housing, Obamacare and Obamaphones—wait, 51 percent already have, which is why he has a second term!
—George Thomas, Ogden
U.S. Constitution, Amendment 14, Section 4: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."
Due to gerrymandering of election districts, Congress is increasingly polarized. Even when a majority of people in the nation want action in a particular direction, this dysfunctional Congress doesn’t act, and gerrymandered districts protect the re-election of people unwilling to come together to serve the common good.
—Carolyn Phinney, Rankin, Phinney Rankin Inc.
Spending money we don’t have is what put us in this situation. Spending must be cut back.
There are two things I want from Obama: 1). Continue W.’s terror war strategy, even if it has to be branded differently to the rest of the world and W. haters. 2) Understanding of our modern monetary theory where our fiat currency allows us not to be spending restrained. Creating conditions for economic growth (JOBS) is important…not debt and deficits, which don’t have the same meaning at the U.S. federal level as they do at city, state, business or household levels. We are NOT Greece (tied not to their own fiat currency but instead the euro).
—Eric Bourgeois, Rochester
Let’s see what Sen. Obama had to say in 2006: "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."
Easily the worst president in the history of the United States. Hopefully the country can rectify his mistakes, from the doubling of our national debt to the trashing of our Constitutional rights, after 2016.
—Peter Short, Pittsford
Obama will not rest until he creates a classic welfare state where as many people as possible are dependent on the government in some major way so that "progressive" (socialistic) governments will be "elected" forever.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …” We cannot make important progress on multiple cultural and financial needs unless the president and Congress work together to form a more perfect union. This requires compromise and the ability to accept political, etc. pluses and minuses. If it were that simple to form a more perfect union, we and many other countries would have done so ages ago.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
Obama is an arrogant, socialist dictator trained in Chicago-style thuggery. He hates America and wants to destroy it for his own personal gratification. His second term will be a repeat of that same abuse of America, its Constitution and his ultimate aim to destroy American values.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
President Obama lacked experience in leading any kind of organization when he took office. Four years later he has not learned the basics of leadership and remains less than competent. He will rely on partisanship, expansion of governmental involvement in the lives of citizens and a class warfare approach to rally his constituencies in his second term. I fully expect the country to be in a worse condition when he leaves office than when he took office.
—Robert Zinnecker, Penfield
His many executive orders will further erode our rights and if he avoids congressional rights on the gun-control issues, he should be impeached ASAP.
Obama is a great intellect and orator, but he lacks leadership skills and does not enjoy the political aspects of the job. Louise Slaughter reputedly told him that he could become another FDR. He could, but he won’t. The obstructionist Congress will undermine him all the way. My expectation is the status quo in Washington for the next four years.
—J.P. Gleason, Gleason Fund Raising Consulting
First term: Set the stage for (continued) socialism via massive increase in government spending; comprehensive government-run health care; trample the First Amendment by forcing hospitals and businesses to ignore their conscience and offer comprehensive birth control; do nothing to grow the economy. Second term: Assault on the 2nd Amendment: Pretend that guns kill people and people don’t, while doing nothing about the million babies who are murdered in the womb. Raise taxes, increase spending, force more people on the government dole … continue to imperialize his presidency.
—Steve Wichtowski, Honeoye
In 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama spoke against raising the debt ceiling citing among other reasons it’s “a sign of leadership failure.” Today he wants to boost the ceiling without conditions (i.e., no spending cuts). The reversal in his position speaks for itself. President Obama is a tax-and-spend president. Give the government more money and it will spend more money. Taxation without corresponding spending cuts is not the pathway to prosperity. The economy will continue to struggle as overtaxed Americans tighten their fiscal belts.
Going back as far as JFK (yes, including Jimmy Carter), I have not seen as divisive, egotistical, spiteful a president as Barack Obama. He is an empty suit with an uncompromising agenda. I expect his second term to be a disaster for both himself and the nation.
—Al Kempf, Power Eq. Co.
If Republican House members continue to act like a bunch of "brats" if they don’t get his/her way, they will do nothing more than help the president and Democrats put them in a box that essentially makes them look like a bunch of "nut jobs." We need a two-party system that enables both sides to give (yes, compromise) in order for our system to work. We’re almost at a point of no return.
You cannot achieve a balanced budget without cutting expenses. To continue raising the ceiling only digs a bigger hole for the taxpayers to figure out at a later date. They have raised the revenue side with the increase in taxes. They now need to lower the expense to balance the debt that they have rung up on the American people.
The secret to success in politics is low expectations. So, I think Mr. Obama’s second term will be successful and we will be dazzled once again by spin and mediocrity.
This question is laughable! He is the most arrogant individual I have ever heard. He takes absolutely no responsibility for his own actions. And, it is always someone else’s fault. He will continue to spend, tax, and take away more of our freedom. If anyone that voted for him thinks anything else, you are just kidding yourself. He is destroying this country every minute he is in office!
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