Americans Despise Congress, Their Economic Confidence Plunges, And Now They Slash Spending

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
By Paul Martin

Wolf Richter

It is starting to show up in the numbers: the debt-ceiling and government-shutdown debacles are worming their way into the economy. Americans blame the already single most disparaged institution, Congress, for it and have started to react economically. Clicks of seatbelts being fastened can be heard around the world.

Congressional approval ratings plunged from an already abysmally low 19% in September to 11% in October, just a notch above Gallup’s all-time low of 10%. Republicans punished Congress in a relatively modest way, cutting their approval rating from 18% to 15%. But Independents slashed their approval rating from 19% to 13%. And Democrats went ahead and demolished Congress, chopping their approval rating from 20% in September to 5% now.

Democrats are unified in how much they despise Congress. More specifically, Gallup says, they despise the Republican-controlled House due to what is perceived to be its extortionary attack on the Affordable Care Act, after all other democratic and legal measures, including a Supreme Court challenge, have failed to dismantle it.

That screaming disapproval of Congress is likely to get worse. If the last effort to use the threat of sending the US into default as a bargaining chip is any guide: during the actual theatrics in 2011, the approval rating dropped to 13%. Afterwards, as a bitter aftertaste lingered in their mouths, Americans sent the approval rating down to 11%! If this trend plays out this time around, approval ratings will soon be in the single digits.

But as they say: Lawmakers bring home the bacon, and Americans vote with their wallet. Hence, they awarded their own representative an average approval rating of 44% on the principle that all lawmakers are despicable, except my lawmaker (down from 46% in May, the last time that measure was included in the survey).

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