John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Congress: Partisanship is Toxic!

Posted on July 8, 2008


            This news items from Rasmussen:  “The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.”


            It goes on to say:  “Congress has not received higher than a 15% approval rating since the beginning of 2008.  Voters not affiliated with either party are the most critical of Congressional performance. Just 3% of those voters give Congress positive ratings, down from 6% last month. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe Congress is doing a poor job, up from 57% last month.”


It concluded by saying, “Most voters (72%) think most members of Congress are more interested in furthering their own political careers. Just 14% believe members are genuinely interested in helping people.”


            If I were a member of Congress, I would be pretty concerned about this numbers.  Since there are more Democrats than Republicans in the House, by a significant margin, the Democratic leadership ought to be in panic mode right now, although I think they are pretty content to go into the elections without any major efforts to get anything positive done.


            It is highly unusual for Congress to be this unpopular when it hasn’t passed a major pay raise for itself.  These numbers are bad, bad, bad.


            There are several reasons why people are so unhappy with the Congress.  Economic anxiety, fueled by explosive increases in gas prices, plays a significant role.  The hangover from the various scandals and the early retirements of many members of Congress who have decided to cash in for big money also has played a big role in driving down the Congress’s ratings. 


            But I also think that the intense partisanship that typifies this Congress (and many Congress’s of the past) plays a huge role.  Those numbers among independents tell me that the political games are taking their toll on Congressional ratings.


            I believe, and have believed even when I was with the Speaker’s office, that most Americans don’t care if the Congress is run by Democrats or by Republicans.  They just want the job to get done. 


            And right now, the job just ain’t getting done.

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