President Barack Obama has been clear about his economic philosophy. Perhaps most clearly outlined in his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama articulated a vision of government that is an active participant in the economy, works efficiently, invests effectively, and provides opportunities for those in need. He has made no secret of his disdain for the institutional inequality born of market failures, and he believes that government should be used as a tool to defend the economic liberties of those in need.
Ostensibly, a majority of Americans (50.5 percent of the popular vote in 2012) support, if not agree with, this philosophy. United States citizens voted President Obama into office twice during a period of enormous economic hardship and uncertainty with the belief (at least, one would imagine) that his policies would be effective.
Five years into his presidency though, surveys suggest that Americans largely disagree with the job that President Obama has done. According to a December 6 to 9 Bloomberg National Poll, for the first time in his presidency a majority Americans have a net unfavorable perception of President Obama.
The survey, based on 1,004 interviews with U.S. adults, found that 52 percent of Americans have a net unfavorable perception of President Obama, the highest since the beginning of his presidency in 2008. While this perception is a compound of a motley crew of problems — such as the entire snafu surrounding the Nation Security Agency — much of the criticism revolves around the economy.
When asked whether the Obama administration deserves credit for the improving housing market, for example, just 36 percent of Americans said they earned it, and 60 percent said the market would have healed on its own. Only 31 percent of Americans believe the Obama administration deserves any credit for the stock market rally, and 64 percent said it would have happened on its own.
When it comes to job creation and reducing the unemployment rate — something that the president has made a central part of his platform — just 45 percent of Americans credit the Obama administration for overall decline in unemployment, while 50 percent said it would have happened regardless.
The one thing that Americans did think the Obama administration deserved credit for was the reduction in the federal budget deficit: 49 percent of Americans credited the administration, while 42 percent said it would have happened anyways.
However, a separate question asking whether people approved or disapproved of the job that President Obama is doing with the budget deficit revealed that 63 percent of Americans disapprove, and just 31 percent approve. With the economy as a whole, just 38 percent approve of the job he is doing while 58 percent disapprove. The survey results paint a pretty grim picture of the president’s performance in the eyes of Americans. President Obama ran on a largely economic platform, and on most fronts most people in the country believe he has not done a satisfactory job.
But his task was enormously difficult. The nation is still collecting itself after being sucker punched by the worst economic crisis in 80 years, and while the recovery has been slow it has been material. Real gross domestic product is growing, unemployment is falling, and, according to the Bloomberg survey, more Americans believe the next 12 months will be better for the economy (33 percent) than worse (25 percent).
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