The FINANCIAL -- Take this economy, puh-leez. And while you’re at it, take this Congress
and this president with you, too. That’s the message from most Americans
The federal government yesterday reported a stunningly low economic growth rate for the U.S. economy for the first six months of the year. But that was no surprise to regular followers of the Rasmussen Consumer Index , which measures the economic confidence of consumers on a daily basis. Consumer confidence remains near the lowest levels of the past two years. Just 13% of adult consumers say the U.S. economy is getting better these days, while 64% say it's getting worse. At the beginning of the year, 30% said economic conditions in the country were getting better, and only 45% said they were getting worse.
The similarly depressed Rasmussen Investor Index on Friday found that only 16% of investors think U.S. economic conditions are getting better, while 64% say they are getting worse. At the beginning of 2011, investors were evenly divided, with 36% saying economic conditions were improving and 39% saying they were getting worse.
These findings are echoed by record lows in our recent surveys of the housing market. While President Obama and some Democrats in Congress want to extend more government help to troubled homeowners, most Americans want the government to stay out of that market. Sixty-two percent (62%) of adults believe it's better for homeowners who can’t afford to make increased mortgage payments to sell their homes and find less expensive ones. Just 25% think it’s better for the government to assist those homeowners in making their payments.
Even among those who have missed a mortgage payment in the past six months, 54% say the better approach is for financially troubled homeowners to sell and buy something less expensive. Among those whose home is worth less than their mortgage, 70% say the better option is for struggling homeowners to sell their home and buy something less expensive. When it comes to those who expect the value of their home to go down over the coming year, the results are similar—70% say sell, while 21% think financial assistance from the government is a better solution.
With the debate over the nation’s debt ceiling dragging on and consumer confidence near two-year lows, voters are souring even more on the president's handling of economic issues . Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters give the president good or excellent marks when it comes to the economy. But 50% say the president is doing a poor job, up seven points from 43% two weeks ago. That ties the highest negative finding of Obama's presidency, last measured in October 2010.
Just 17% of voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest level of confidence measured since January 11, 2009 , just before Obama took office.
But voters aren’t just blaming the president. Voter approval of the job Congress is doing also has fallen to a new low - for the second month in a row. Just six percent (6%) now rate Congress' performance as good or excellent.
Voters are also more convinced than ever that most congressmen are crooks . Forty-six percent (46%) now view most members of Congress as corrupt. That’s up seven points from June and the highest finding yet recorded.
Americans still look least favorably on members of Congress when asked to rate nine major professions. Just 19% view members of Congress even somewhat favorably.
House Speaker John Boehner is the only congressional leader whose favorables are up noticeably this month, but his negatives have risen even more as the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling continues. Voters remain most critical, however, of the Democratic congressional leadership, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
All eyes are on Reid now that House Republicans have sent their debt ceiling deal over to the Senate for a vote. Despite the brinksmanship being displayed by both sides, voters expect the debt ceiling to be raised before the government defaults, although most don’t think the president and congressional Republicans will agree on significant long-term spending cuts before the 2012 elections. The majority of voters aren’t happy with the way either party is handling the debt ceiling debate.
Both major political parties are looking to next year’s elections to resolve the nation’s budget stalemate, and for now voters by a 56% to 34% margin would opt for a congressional candidate who balances spending cuts with tax hikes to cut the deficit over one who’s totally opposed to any tax increases.
Voters consistently have viewed themselves as more willing than their elected representatives to whack away at the federal budget. Forty percent (40%) of Americans, in fact, are now ready to sell the U.S. Postal Service to a private company like UPS or Federal Express to help reduce the deficit.
While voters express little confidence that the federal budget will be balanced any time soon, they believe overwhelmingly that if a surplus is ever generated again , the money should go toward paying down the federal debt rather than being returned to taxpayers in the form of a cut in taxes.
Most analysts including our very own Scott Rasmussen continue to see the troubled economy as the key factor in next year’s elections, and right now that appears to be playing to the Republicans’ advantage.
Voter confidence in Republicans to handle the economy is growing. Forty-five percent (45%) trust the GOP more when it comes to handling economic issues, while 35% put more trust in Democrats. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided. Republicans had just a four-point lead in May. Voters have consistently placed the economy at the top of the list of 10 important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports. They now trust Republicans more than Democrats on nine of those 10 issues.
Republicans continue to lead Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot . The GOP’s been ahead on the ballot every week since June 2009, leading by as much as 12 points and as little as two.
A generic Republican candidate leads the president by six points again this week – 48% to 42% - in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up . The GOP candidate has now outpolled the president in nine of 12 surveys conducted weekly since early May. Of course, the race is tighter when the Republican candidate has a name.