Nearly two years into Barack Obama's failed presidency, more than 7 in 10 Americans have a negative view of the government he promised to change for the better.
When the USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans last month to describe the federal government in one word or phrase, the most frequent responses were "too big," "confused," "incompetent," "wasteful," "out of control," "a mess," "bloated," "dysfunctional," "poor," "disappointing," "pathetic," "broken" and "corrupt."
The Gallup survey found that 72 percent of the responses were negative, with only 10 percent expressing positive views. (18 percent voiced neutral or mixed views.)
This is in line with other polls showing similarly negative views that have risen sharply under Obama's dramatic expansion of federal programs for government health care, the failed $1 trillion economic stimulus plan, assorted bailouts and a wave of other big spending initiatives.
A Washington Post poll, published Sunday in conjunction with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, yielded many of the same negative words about the government. Indeed, of 43 most frequently heard words, three-fourths of them were severely critical, i.e., "lousy," "chaos," "dishonest," "untrustworthy," "stinks," "ineffective" and "too big."
"Americans have a more negative view of government today than they did a decade ago, or even a few years ago," the Post reported. "This general anti-Washington sentiment is helping to fuel a potential Republican takeover of Congress next month."
Obama was elected on soaring promises that bigger government was the answer to all our problems, and a majority of voters bought into his vision. But within two years, the overreaching promises and the mounting excuses and blame gave way to a $1 trillion-plus deficit, higher taxes, eroding liberties and a country most Americans say is moving in the wrong direction.
A decade ago, the government received a passing grade of C, but today, nearly half of the poll respondents give the government under Obama and the Democrats a grade of D or F.
Fifty five percent think the government is ignoring the big issues that concern them the most, with justification.
Economic growth has slowed to a crawl, real unemployment is at 17 percent when you include people forced to accept part-time work, applications for food stamps is soaring, and poverty has risen to a record high. And Obama is going around the country attacking the Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business association, accusing it of mingling foreign funding in its campaign donations without a scintilla of proof to back up the charge (which came from an obscure liberal Democrat website).
Almost every other week, Obama comes out with a new plan to spend more money (the latest to boost infrastructure spending). But 55 percent say government does not use tax money wisely, is out of sync with their values and has not helped their families, according to the Post poll.
Almost half of the 2,054 Americans polled said the government threatens their personal freedoms. Compulsion is a growing part of Obama's reform arsenal, and 30 state attorney generals are taking the Obama government to court to prevent it from forcing Americans to buy health care plans they do not want and cannot afford.
President Reagan was fond of saying that whenever he thought of the government, it always reminded him of a sign he once saw at Hoover Dam that said "Do Not Remove." He always got a big laugh when he told audiences of the federal agent who showed up at a town hall meeting one day, saying, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
Americans have a healthy skepticism about the government. It doesn't spend their money well, and all too often, it wastes enormous sums that come out of the paychecks of ordinary, hardworking Americans struggling to make a decent living and the cash registers of businesses struggling to survive.
Reagan came into office telling recession-weary Americans that government was not the answer to the problems; government was the problem. He cut income tax rates across the board, reduced job-killing government regulations, expanded free trade, ended Jimmy Carter's grain embargo and told farmers to sell the Russians all the grain they wanted, championed risk-taking venture capitalism and declared America had entered "the Age of the Entrepreneur."
Obama came to power declaring that the answer to our troubles was more government, more regulation of businesses, investors and banks, and a lot more spending that pushed budget deficits to $1.5 trillion. He bashed corporations, exploited class warfare by attacking wealth, remained hostile to free trade, pushed higher taxes on small business employers and now threatens investors with higher capital gains taxes that have paralyzed job-creating expansion capital.
The result is an anemic economy that is barely growing, 9 to 10 percent unemployment for several more years at least, and, sadly, a dispirited nation that now acknowledges more government is not the answer.
Americans know what the answer is, and it was summed up neatly by Scottie Church, 39, of Winder, Ga. in one of the responses to the Post's poll: "It's time for (the federal government) to get out of the way and let the private sector do its job."