January 16 2014
Patrice J. Lee
You might think that employment or the economy remain a top concern for Americans. You would be wrong, according to new Gallup polling. Americans rank government as the most important problem facing the U.S right now.
Here is what Gallup found:
Americans start the new year with a variety of national concerns on their minds. Although none is dominant, the government, at 21%, leads the list of what Americans consider the most important problem facing the country. The economy closely follows at 18%, and then unemployment/jobs and healthcare, each at 16%. No other issue is mentioned by as much as 10% of the public; however, the federal budget deficit or debt comes close, at 8%
What’s interesting is why? We could point to many factors: increasing tax liabilities, wasteful federal programs, increasing regulations on enterprise and the daily lives of Americans, failure of the public education system, political opportunism that puts elections before economics, and sweetheart deals that Congress secures for its friends.
All play some role, but this new data point to ObamaCare and the government shutdown as a factors driving Americans’ dissatisfaction:
Mentions of the government as the top problem remain higher than they were prior to the partial government shutdown in October. During the shutdown, the percentage naming the government as the top problem doubled to 33% from 16% in September.
Compared with a year ago, mentions of government are up slightly. Mentions of healthcare, on the other hand, have quadrupled -- from 4% in January 2013 to 16% today, likely related to highly visible problems with the rollout of the 2010 healthcare law. At the same time, references to the federal deficit or debt have declined from 20% to 8%, while mentions of the economy in general have dipped from 21% to 18%, and mentions of unemployment/jobs are the same, at 16%.
We have often posited that the botched ObamaCare rollout is a demonstration of the failure of central planning. It has eroded the confidence Americans previously had in government implementing large scale programs or in solving their problems.
During his first campaign the President was effective in inspiring hope in a collectivist vision for America. But he failed miserably to deliver. ObamaCare went from the shining example of what expanded government can do to an experiment gone dreadfully wrong. Think Frankenstein.
What is at issue with ObamaCare is not just the technical glitches of healthcare.gov or the contractors who created the flawed website, but fundamental problems with the healthcare law and the faulty assumptions that drive the collectivist philosophy. Americans are learning that when politicians claim to have the answer to –in this case- market inefficiencies, they should run far in the other direction.
Americans naturally have a healthy suspicion of government and it has risen at a feverish pace. Even young people – among his most ardent supporters – have turned on him expressing dissatisfaction with the job he is doing and his signature legislature.
As POTUS prepares for his State of the Union Address later this month, he’ll face an American public that is far less wide-eyed. He has vowed to make 2014 a “year of action” by the government but his task of convincing Americans to follow him down another thorny path of ill-advised and ill-conceived government solutions is a daunting one. And it should be.