Is Congress getting a fair shake?

A CNN/Opinion Research Poll this week gives the U.S. Congress an approval rating of just 14 percent. About three in four respondents thought officials acted like spoiled children during the debt crisis. Today’s Question: Is Congress getting a fair shake?

  • GaryF

    It’s always been low. But now that the Democrats don’t have a slam dunk majority and Republicans have so power, it’s become a story.

  • Clark

    Who cares. Republicans understand democrats and especially the far left radicals are all lying liars and will never cut spending. Republicans forced them to actually cut something, hopefully. Keep it up, the more I spot the blood vessels in bernie sanders neck bulge, the better for the job creators in the U.S. Free loaders beware!!

  • Steve H.

    The Middle Class are the people not getting a fair shake.

  • Josh D.

    14% percent approval? The only people to blame are the citizens of the country. You get what you vote for. And for about 60% of the country that didn’t vote in the last general election, you could argue they must not disapprove too much or they might actually get off their keisters and do something about it…which they probably won’t.

  • John

    When the rampant austerity starts hitting home and inflation takes off to double digit as our credit rating is cut (as can be seen in the price of gold $1680, another record high today), we should be calling “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS”

    They have let the Federal Reserve print money which is a form of a tax increase and now they are going to push through more tax increases in the form of tax reform. Its criminal. The big banks, big corporations, and big lobbyist (AIPAC) are getting away with it because they own our politicians.

  • Tom

    Partisan and ideological conflict is inherent in democratic political systems, of course, and governing is often a messy process. But this level of dysfunction is not typical. And it is not going away in the near future.

  • Larry M.

    The congress is basically getting the ratings they deserve, their actions, particularly their inability to create a clean bill deserves scorn. Politicians have forgotten what is actually germane to a bill. No where is that true than the republicans’ addition of a union busting hand out to the airlines in the FAA bill, the stalemate is currently costing 74,000 people their jobs as congress goes on vacation.

  • Brian

    Obama is but a figurehead of an unelected government in the US. This unelected power of corporate elites – commercial, financial, military – governs with the same core policies regardless of who is sitting in the White House. Whether these policies are on social, economic or foreign matters, the elected president must obey the direction ordained by the unelected elite. That kind of untrammeled power structure conforms more closely in practice to dictatorship, not democracy.

    Our bought and paid for representatives don’t represent the people.

  • linda

    Absolutely, they have earned every disgruntled statement made against them. And I hold republicans’ heads on the block. Their sole aim in all of this is to make Mr. Obama a one term president. The good of the country be damned. And they have the nerve to voice that very fact. Their second aim is to protect the richest Americans from pain in getting us out of the deficit mess. I only hope every voter really soul-searches their options come November 2012. Know exactly what your candidates stands for and vote accordingly.

  • TomK

    Members of congress seem to be focused on just one thing – how to get re-elected. Decisions being made are short-sighted and merely move the problems our country has to future generations. Members of congress are terrified to make the difficult decisions that are critical for our long-term success as a nation – modifying Social Security, reducing defense spending, closing tax loopholes -because they won’t get special interest money for the next election cycle.

    We need term limits to be sure our “public servants” represent what we need as constituents not what they need to stay in position.

  • Terry

    If I was not so broke from paying taxes,,,, I would build a bunker. Stock it with food, water, and watch this great country sink like the Titanic.

    Thanks for nothing dear politicians.

  • Kyle

    I guess so. I get the impression that a lot of people are unhappy with Congress because they feel that their current situations are not good, and that the Congress itself isn’t getting much done (at least, not much of value).

    I think that both of those views are justified. But at the same time, precious few people make much of an effort to understand current issues in any depth, preferring the sound bites issued from their side of choice. This allows our elected representatives to gain their statuses with gross oversimplifications or outright misrepresentations of our current issues and potential solutions for them.

    So the people who are elected don’t necessarily have a plan or even understand some (or perhaps most) issues very deeply, which makes it hard to formulate a good response. And when people run on platforms of refusal to compromise, it makes it much harder to do anything, whether it’s a good response or not.

    Congress’ actions deserve the low ratings people are giving. However, Congress is composed of the people that we as a nation choose, and the people that we are choosing make for a Congress that is almost sure to fail.

  • Derrick

    I blame the Tea Party and the crazy Liberals who have no flexibility and solutions, all they put forth are talking points and party line soundbits. This country needs a “Radical Middle” to take over and actually have some common sence to government and leadership. If I hear we need to cut taxes to help job creator’s or a ton of money spent to pay for something only a few people benefit from, one more time I think I am going to puke!

  • Roul

    A fair shake?? The made up debt ceiling crisis date was used to push for more spending and noit improve the economy as they said, the DFL’s, would happen. Moodys and S&P will downgrade our credit rating in a few months if not sooner, but the inside forces pressured them NOT to downgrade _yet. Our debt to GDP is according to the CBO, at 100%..on our way to being like Greece unless Congress takes back their powers.

    Which party in control raised our debt , which great House leader said, “we have to pass the Health reform bill to SEE what is in it.” ? Has anyone noticed that the Health care reform bill has an extra 46 billion in hidden taxes to be levied against America? The stimulus bill from Obama also has hidden taxes unrelated to stimulus to the economy. Instead of our leaders helping, they go on the air as did Biden and other DFL reps to dehumanize the Tea Party Americans and no media will cover that story. Why????

    Unemployment was supposed to stay below 8% if we passed the Sti,mulus bill in 2010_ well it is over 9.3% today! Big business moves it manufacturing over seas because our corporate tax rate is the highest in the world…WHY do people wonder why our economy is down…when we can’t even have an American made TV set or fully American made car?

    But what do you expect when we elected a majority of incumbents and a President who NEVER ran a business and never had to be held accountable to others. The Tea Party members may be our only hope for saving our country.

    Old GOP and DFL Progressives are on their way out in 2012. Fair shake would be to SHAKE them out of office including those who use the same tactics as Hitler did to de-humanize their opposition……Thank you Biden, Media Matters and mainstream media for showing your cards. America is finally waking up… more Presidents elected from a bumper sticker is the answer.

  • Sandy

    Really, seriously… You’ve got to be kidding.

  • david

    They (congress) as well as the american people are getting exactly what they deserve. When morons elect morons this is what you get, no where.

  • Roul

    A fair shake would be to acknowledge the fact that the DFL controlled our Congress for the two years where they_ couldn’t get a budget passed let alone a deficit plan. Obama NEVER presented a real plan in writing for the deficit..he sat back and whined.

    Don’t forget that Obama presented his budget plan and was voted down by 97-0…Good lord, even his own party trashed his plan because it was stupid..plain and simple stupidity from an inexperienced President got zero votes.

    Oh, and how is that stock market doing since they passed the no cut plan? Another recession is here and all we have to show for it is billions and billions added to taxes due and a lot of wasted money to appease the Unions. Ask yourself this: How many jobs were ever created by AFLCIO, SEIU and UAW? NONE…. they have no risk of their own investment money, but they want to control others wealth with redistribution of wealth to those who risked nothing in creating a job? I won’t start another small business until the current administration is voted out.

  • Tom

    It’s hard to imagine how Congress could be worse than it is. They have devised a plan that will do nothing to improve the economy. It is designed to protect millionaires, billionaires and corporate America. In the long run it will harm them also by dismantling the middle class that feeds their money lust. The Tea Party zealots won’t be satisfied until they’ve brought us back to a pre-New Deal era and then maybe the masses will finally rise up and rid us of the bastards.

  • david

    roul are you done with your misguided rant yet?

    Moron bush steered the ship into the rocks 10 years ago and did everything wrong possible that whole time. The kind of damage his regime of corporate (oil) shills did can not possibly be fixed in 2 years. In someways it’ll never be fixed, but the LAST thing we need is more of the same. Which is exactly what we are getting with these teabagging morons.

    The party of NO it now doing everything possible to head us into another recession/depression. But why not, the rich can get richer that way and who’s going to say anything as long as fetuses are safe, there’s a gun under every bed, and no gays are married.

  • Roul

    Thank you Tom for in his comment below, he speaks like a true Progressive styled communist…let the government run your life and dictate all jobs and let gov. choose which companies exist while using the class warfare propaganda to fuel their cause. BTW, how did the USSR and Cuba end up with Tom’s ideology? I wonder if Tom was ever hired by a poor person who had no capital and never risked their earnings to start a company to hire people. Hmmmm….

  • John S

    I can understand why Congress gets such a low rating in polls. That being said, there are many members of Congress (on both sides of the aisle) who do want to do what is right for our country. Unfortunately, the intrasigent idealogues have made reasonable compromise almost impossible. (The same is true for our State Legislature here in Minnesota.) It concerns me that so much that is happening in Washington is done for political advantage or for the money that can be raised by kowtowing to powerful lobbyists. I only hope that in upcoming elections, voter turnout will be high (most polls show a large majoirity of the population don’t like the highly partisan nature of the present Congress) and that more moderates will replace the political extremists.

  • David

    A fair shake? Are you kidding, if anything the criticism has been too mild.

    Although the senate disarray, the House has become completely dysfunctional. There is clearly no leadership in that body and the behavior membership is closer to mob rule. The freshmen aligned with the Tea Party should all be sanctioned by the house for their total disregard of the risk they are willing to position this country in just to advance their polarized viewpoint. The intransigence of their position is more worrisome to me than the potential of terrorist attacks. With terrorist attacks, you pick up the pieces and move forward; the hurt is generally temporary, unless are directly impacted.

    The harm that could potentially occur, if the goals of some in this house were to succeed, could jeopardize the future of the country for generations to come.

  • Carrie

    I don’t know. The teabaggers are doing what they said they’d do. They are being obstructionist and destroying our country. Those who voted for them and those who didn’t bother to vote, brought this disaster upon us. Why is anyone surprised that it’s going this way? As the saying goes……You get the government you deserve.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The old saying is true: We have the best Congress money can buy. If we want it to be any different, we have to vote differenly.

  • Loyd

    Not only did they act like spoiled children, they folded to the political wishes of a minority of the American population (the Tea Party). The majority of Americans wanted a plan which included both spending cuts and revenue increases…instead we got a plan that neither increases revenue nor cuts spending enough to have a significant effect on our national debt. In this situation, Congress has both failed to create a good solution for the people it has elected to serve, and has failed to properly represent the wishes of the people it was elected to serve.

  • JohnL

    Yes. They are being evaluated on their behavior. They should add a couple of requirements for anyone to run for congress. Experience on a baseball, football, basketball, hockey or lacrosse team so they learn teamwork, a requirement that everyone in congress or running for congress take and pass a course in logic and, just to give them a taste of others people’s reality, that every congressperson and candidate teach inner city middle school students for two weeks without outside assistance.

  • Roul

    Why not end the debate with what the progressives like to do and just name call with sexual perverse terms as “tea baggers” as a few here have so wrote and blame all the spending excess on those who passed those bills? Which party was in power since 2009 that could have passed a balanced budget? Which party had the power to pass a debt ceiling and cut our debt so we aren’t downgraded? Almost three years later and what do the stats show for any improved economy? Ever notice that those who are Progressives refuse to answer the facts but instead use name calling to avoid the facts. Please feel free to list all the great improvements to the economy over the past nearly 3 years from Obama-reed-Pelosi- Soros plans…please show us all such great deeds if you can find even one. Soros wrote the Financial reform bill outline and then he took himself out of the system…what does that say about Obama’s puppet master?

    The markets have been collapsing on themselves since Obama signed the latest I guess he was wrong to say we had_ to pass the increased debt ceiling. Only the Tea Party congressmen for the most part stood by their values and voted NO to more of the same DFL-Obama agenda….go read the stimulus bill and health care reform bill and see for yourself al the hidden excess tax raising that is in place. No wonder many physicians are considering getting out of the field..when we are short doctors, who will fix your ills? Congressmen and Obama with a bottle of aspirin?

  • Steve the Cynic

    Free loaders beware!!

    Freeloaders, such as financial services executives who extract more profit from the economy than their work actually contributes to the well-being of society?

  • Roul

    Fair is fair but the Tea Party endorsed Congressmen are just a minority while numerous polls show over 72% of Americans are either members or support the Tea Party values. The next election will be telling….your choice: 1. Have more 9.2% unemployment and rising, manipulated by China and laughed at by OPEC or____ 2. Restore our Constitution and values, remove the new federal regulations stifling energy independence, small business and growth and return to the America that protects your freedoms and opportunity to achieve.

  • Ellen

    At least you can send spoiled children to their rooms until they agree to play nicely together. The refusal to compromise is worse than childish, and I hope voters will consider sending many of those legislators to their rooms permanently in 2012. Alas, we as voters seem to enjoy and expect combat rather than cooperation, and the dysfunction will continue until we recognise that we are all in the same boat, and if I shoot a hole in your end of the boat we both sink.

  • Peter

    What is happening in the House is exactly what was obviously what the so-called “tea partiers” would do. They clearly have a true religion and are on a holy crusade. Unfortunately, their doctrine has essentially no correspondence with reality.

    It won’t work to just dispose of the Republican Party as too debased by the extremists. The Democratic Party has long been home to a very wide swath of the political field. The more extreme liberals in the Democratic Party need to be balanced, and there is no way that could happen if a new party were organized around the fantasies of the Tea Party. We need the Republican Party needs to be reclaimed by more responsible people, and they are going to have to deal with the Tea Partiers as a persistent part of the party.

    As of now, the Democrats in Congress are guilty of having been ineffectual for long enough that Republicans believe, not entirely irrationally, that Democrats will roll over any play dead anytime they are pushed. With Republicans clinging to the notion that Democrats can be rolled over any time they want to do it, they can’t be blamed too much for believing that their anti-tax pledge takes precedence over their oath of office. The separation of powers gives Congress great leeway, and the House rules eagerly invite overweening arrogance by the majority.

  • greg

    It has received every fairness it could posibly be accorded and has behaved badly, rudely and in the interests of party over people. Congress has finally and fully abrogated its responsibility to ACT on behalf of the people. The minor business of congress – approving presidential appointments to executive offices and the judicial bench is a full on travesty going back 40 years. the mid-level business of holding hearing and conducting informational review of data has become nothing, nothing but a shallow and vapid loading of opinuendo into the official record. the upper-level business of actually writing, debating and voting on legislation has become an over-wrought, over-rigged, over-gamed process. and the Worst condemnation of all – it is the mirror of ourselves – the American people both for continuing to tolerate this congress and to whole-heartedly demand this behavior as a representative of our own bad attitudes, manners and behavior.

  • EAL

    When President Obama asended to the Presidency with a Democratic House and Democratic Senate, health care reform passed almost seamlessley becuase of the majority in power of all three branches got what they wanted. Then in 2010, the House is taken over by Republicans. Now that those on the left no longer get to steamroll their legislation, insuation by many in the public and much of the general media is that those on the right are acting like spoiled children. If this is the case would it not hold true that when steamrolling their agenda through when in power that those on the left were conducting themselves like bullies?

  • Carla

    Absolutely it’s fair. They’re there to lead and make difficult decisions, but they give us entrenched politics, games-playing and misleading “facts.”

  • Geoffrey Fisher

    No. I think that 14% approval is too generous. Congresspersons are far more concerned with everything but the good of the nation. Republicans are trying to block virtually all action as they seem to want to see this country in crisis so that they will gain seats in Congress & possibly gain the White House in 2012. It is incredible to me that they don’t see that their policies, which ruled the country during the Bush Administration, put this country into the crisis that we’re in now. As for the Democrats they appear to be spineless, refusing to capitalize on the mistakes that have been accrued in economic, military & domestic policy due to their intransigent stance on virtually everything.

  • T


    That polling must be from your imaginary friends at your tea party this afternoon…please pass me a crumpet sir. Are our brain-wave infuser protectors on tight enough yet sir…”Oh yes”. says Roul, “You look smashing!”

  • Greg

    no – shake them some more. the tea-party rash is showing.

  • Shiner

    NO WAY! Americans can be so lazy of mind. Congress is more diverse than than a lot think, with different ideologies. I’m sick and tired of both parties of Congress being blamed equally. In the case of the Debt Ceiling “Crisis,” the Dems were willing to give concessions, to compromise, to get ‘er done. The Republicans would not agree to one thing, did not even agree within their own party. And how many people realize, and were reminded by the press, that the Debt “Crisis” could have been ended in 5 minutes with a one sentance bill? They could have taken up other issues later. Maybe not good Republican strategy, but they could have. Now “winning” is great, if it doesn’t cost the Country as a whole. Just my opinion, I guess. So NO, all members of Congress should not be blamed equally. Wake up people, and watch those you voted for and just what those that you put in Congress are up to.

  • Neil C

    Well run companies have experienced, skillful and visionary leaders. In addition, they have effective planning processes. They have strategic plans that tend to have a 3 – 5 year time horizon. They have operating plans with a 1-year horizon. The strategic and operating plans are somewhat aligned. Their plans anticipate problems like running out of money. Cutting spending our raising capital is always part of the plan.

    Compare that to our government. It’s been at least 10 years since we have had “an experienced, skillful and visionary leader.” (1 out of 3 or 2 out of 3 doesn’t count!) We don’t have a strategic plan or a strategic planning process at all. We may have operating plans, but it would appear they aren’t worth the paper they are written on, as something as routine as raising the debt ceiling is an excuse to tear up the old plan and create a new one.

    We can’t solve our current problems (declining competitiveness, excessive debt, declining standards of living) without a coherent and cogent long term plan that we commit to long enough to allow it to have impact. Citizens intrinsically know this, and are worried.

    No, congress is probably not getting a fair shake. Not because they don’t suck at their job. But because they share blame with the President, party leaders, the electorate, and a whole bunch of other people who are doing an awful job at stewarding this formerly great country.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “When President Obama asended to the Presidency with a Democratic House and Democratic Senate, health care reform passed almost seamlessley becuase of the majority in power of all three branches got what they wanted.”

    What planet were you living on when health care reform passed, EAL? Don’t you remember the heat and acrimony? Don’t you remember that Obama first decided to nix single-payer and then gave up on the “public option,” all because the Republicans in the Senate were always able to muster enough votes to sustain a filibuster? Or do you buy the right-wing lie that “Obamacare” is “socialized medicine,” when in fact it essentially implements an idea that was originally put forward as a Repubican alternative to “Hillarycare”?

  • Kurt

    The Tea Party represented the only adults in the process. We can either start to cut entitlement spending now by degrees or wait until we become Greece. At that point, the “austerity” measures necessary will cause riots in the street.

  • Steve the Cynic

    On the contrary, Kurt. The Tea Party represent selfish children throwing a temper tantrum when they’re told they should share. Adults recognize that they need to do their fair share for the common good and look out for their neighbors.

  • Kurt

    Yes Steve, we are all about the “sharing” so long as the ones asked to do it are someone other than ourselves. The selfish and childish are those who view Government as their trust fund.

  • EAL

    Steve the Cynic, regarding health care, Congress failed to address two key issues. The first was personal responsibility and the second was tort reform. Read the Constitution which was adopted to limit the role of the federal government. What Congress should have done was tort reform followed by allowing the Several states to develop their own programs. We are not a federal system. Asks the former U.S.S.R. how well that worked!

  • Steve the Cynic

    Kurt, your latest post is a blatant example of self-justification. I don’t know anyone who views government as their trust fund. I do know people whose lives depend on government services, who are put at risk because of funding cuts.

    EAL, you are factually incorrect about the USA not being a “federal” system. The Constitution was adopted, in part, to address obvious deficiencies in the previous Articles of Confederation under which the states had much more power. And the real problems with the 2009 health care reform are that it didn’t address the perverse incentives of the fee-for-service system, and it still leaves us with a system based on profiteering from disease.

  • Kurt S

    Steve, You’ve led a sheltered life apparently. I used to work for a fellow who rented a number of units through section-8 housing. It always surprised me that so many of them had cable and kept their apartments at 75-80 in the winter.

    Someone who pays for their own heat would not likely do so. Yes, there are people who need assistance because of circumstances beyond their control. No one has a problem with that. But you should get out more. Your naivete’ eclipses your cynicism.

    I also worked for the state for a while. Same deal. No one is concerned with cost when they are playing with house money.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Sure, Kurt, you can always find examples of people abusing the system. But after all these years of Republican cuts to the social safety net, the examples of people falling through the cracks have been far more numerous than people getting excessive benefits. In fact, abuse of the system never was as bad as Conservatives made it out to be. I Remember Reagan telling a story about a welfare queen driving up to get her check in a Cadillac. The detail he left out was the fact that the car was an old rust-bucket that she had paid $500 for. And ever since GWB took office, usage of food shelves, soup kitchens and homeless shelters has been going up more or less steadily. It’s time to turn that trend around.

  • Kurt S

    Steve, The only change to the system that I recall was under Clinton. Frankly I am much more concerned with waste in Government itself than with any one individual. How would you change the system?

    Getting back to the original question, I see that S&P has now down-graded our debt citing failure to make significant cuts to our deficit. Sounds like S&P are tea party fans.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Sounds like S&P are tea party fans.”

    Not necessarily, Kurt. There’s more than one way to cut the deficit. The Tea Party’s way is with draconian cuts to the social safety net. Keep in mind that we would not currenly have a debt problem, but for two things: Bush’s tax cuts, and Bush’s two unfunded wars.

    No, Kurt, the real deficit problem is caused by too many voters buying what’s being sold by politicians who pander to people’s greed (“I want you to keep more of your money!” – GWB), instead of being concerned about the common good. Sadly, politicians can’t get elected with a campaign platform like, “I want you to do your fair share for the country!”

    And if you’re concerned about waste in government, Kurt, corporate welfare and tax loopholes that mostly benefit the rich have to be on the table.

  • Kurt S

    Steve, I suppose thats a comforting ratinalization for you. “It’s all Bushs’ fault. Obama should campaign on that.

    Actually you can get elected promoting responsibility. JFK did: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your country.” His speeches sound eerily like Reagan by the way.

    As for tax loopholes. Yes, there is certainly room for eliminating a lot of them, and I’m all for cutting our losses in Afganistan, especially after today. Won’t argue with you there.

    As this is getting rather far afield, and I doubt that we will agree on much of anything, I’ll sign off now.

    Good luck to you.


  • Steve the Cynic

    “Actually you can get elected promoting responsibility. JFK did: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your country.’

    I was wondering if you would cite that, Kurt. It’s a common mistake. When JFK said, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” it was in his innaugural speech, after he was elected, not something he ran on. Had that been a key line in his stump speech, I doubt he would have won. I’d be inclined to vote for a politician who prominently quoted that line in her or his campaign, but such ideas are conspicuously absent in today’s political rhetoric.

  • Steve the Cynic

    And, Kurt, I have no need to rationalize anything. The current state of affairs is not my fault. My taxes weren’t cut significantly under Bush, nor have I benefitted from any governmet handouts lately (unlike, say GE). Other than tax refunds, the last time I got a check from the government, it was military pay. The rationalizing is being done by those who have benefitted from our unjust tax structure and are trying to wash their hands of their social responsibility.