What a sorry state America is in when voters can’t trust elected officials to keep their campaign promises. A Gallup poll released earlier this week showed that Congress has reached a new low, gaining the approval of just 9 percent of Americans. This breaks last year’s dismal 10 percent, the previous record.
Gallup has been gauging Americans’ perception Congress’ performance since 1974. The average approval rating is 33 percent with the 56 percent all-time high registered immediately after Sept. 11, 2001.
The sad but true joke on Capitol Hill is that if it weren’t for paid staff and blood relatives, today’s 9 percent rating would be lower. On Fox News, Sen. John McCain said that since his 101-year-old mother recently called him out, he’s no longer confident that Congress can even maintain a mother’s support.
McCain may be laughing, but he’s an excellent example of why the country doesn’t believe politicians. During his 2008 presidential campaign, McCain pledged to “complete the dang fence,” a reference to securing the border between Mexico and the United States. In his 2010 Senate re-election bid, McCain repeated his promise.
Then, in 2012, McCain joined the Gang of Eight that introduced a 1,000-plus page bill that translated into huge immigration increases — but with border enforcement to come five years down the line, if ever. McCain told Washington reporters that he expects to run again in 2016 when he’ll be 80. The chances are that’s one promise McCain will keep and, worse, that he’ll be re-elected.
The Washington mindset reflects the devious strategy: Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, and people will eventually believe you.
Enter President Obama: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” From 2008 to 2010, Obama reiterated the same assurance multiple times.
Because of the Obamacare fiasco, Americans are reasonably asking themselves if the president can be trusted. The polling results on Obama’s trustworthiness are better than Congress’ favorability score, but still troubling. A Quinnipiac University survey found that 52 percent of Americans say that Obama is not “honest or trustworthy.”
For a president elected twice because voters perceived him as honest and competent, losing the people’s confidence represents a major setback. If America spends two more years questioning the president’s good faith, the nation could become permanently cynical by the time 2016 rolls around.
Millions of Americans have already had their health insurance cancelled. Within months, as many as 23 to 41 million could lose also lose their insurance. In October, only 106,000 signed up for Obamacare, less than 2 percent of the 7 million the Department of Health and Human Services predicted would do so.
The next crunch date is two weeks away, when the administration projects that HealthCare.gov will finally be fully functional. Technical experts think the Nov. 30 date is too optimistic. If they’re right, a new crisis of confidence will emerge.
Obama’s best path out of the muck would be to get behind Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bill that would let people retain their canceled insurance, allowing the president to keep his often-made promise dating back to 2008.
In an announcement late Thursday afternoon, Obama made a compromise statement that he would allow insurance companies to keep people on their original health care. “Allowing,” however, is not the same as “requiring.”
After everything is said and done, what it boils down to is that the federal government is simply incapable of managing an insurance program as massive as Obamacare. The best option is to cut loses, and repeal Obamacare sooner rather than later. As I recall, the public was never for it in the first place.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.