President Obama and the current Congressional leadership were swept into office on a wave of dissatisfaction with George Bush and a Republican Congress. Polls showed that Americans were open to the idea of greater government intervention as a way to address serious problems. President Obama promised that he would expand the role of government to ‘fix’ health care, Wall Street, the economy, energy, and other challenges. A new poll from the liberal Center for American Progress shows that less than 2 years later, confidence in the ability of government to solve such problems has plummeted. Faith in the federal government is now at its lowest level in the history of the poll:
Americans increasingly feel that government ‘is doing too much:’
Americans are ambivalent about whether government protects or curtails freedom, but strongly believe that it is opaque rather than transparent, and serves special interests rather than the common good:
Respondents now say that regulation of business does more harm than good - and support for regulation generally is at its lowest point since 1994:
CAP also decided to poll test a straw man: to find out what percentage favors the complete elimination of government from the marketplace. Even here, the collapse of public support for government involvement in the market is stunning. Not only is support for government at its lowest level on record, it has fallen 10 points from its previous all-time low, and 22 points from just 2 years ago:
In the last 18 months, the American people have witnessed an enormous expansion of the federal government, and they’re clearly very negative about the experience. Whereas support for bigger government was at its apex when Obama was elected, it has completely collapsed. Americans continue to believe Uncle Sam has a role in regulating some private activities - that’s no surprise. But clearly the debate over health care, the stimulus, the bailouts, Dodd-Frank, cap and trade, and others, have sown new doubts about the power of Washington to bring positive change.