- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Democrat-controlled Congress and President Bush seem locked in a perverse competition for public unfavorability, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

The survey shows Mr. Bush’s approval ratings at 35 percent, and Congress‘ even lower, 25 percent. Only 27 percent of those polled said the country is headed in the right direction, and 39 percent said they support the Iraq war, with 58 percent opposed.

While Bush’s favorability ratings have remained relatively unchanged for months, Congress‘ support declined markedly between May and July, a dip confirmed in a poll of 1,003 persons taken last week.

Those surveyed were asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job after seven months of divided government and then prompted to volunteer a reason.

Of the 74 percent of those expressing disapproval of Congress, 22 percent said lawmakers generally aren’t doing their jobs. Twenty percent cited a specific issue for their unhappiness. Twelve percent said they disapprove of Congress because lawmakers care only about themselves and their party, while 10 percent cited backstabbing and infighting.

Among those who cited an issue, the war in Iraq was mentioned most often. It was cited by 7 percent of those disapproving of Congress‘ performance, followed by health care, 5 percent; immigration, 2 percent; and employment and wage issues, 2 percent.

The survey was taken as Congress was beginning its summer recess, providing a respite from months of unsuccessfully trying to force Mr. Bush to change course in Iraq.

Democratic leaders have vowed to renew their challenge to Mr. Bush when they return to the Capitol after Labor Day. An autumn clash also looms over federal spending, and Mr. Bush has posted veto threats against bills dealing with farm programs, energy and a substantial expansion of federal spending on children’s health care.

“I don’t think this war is going the way it should be. We’re over there for nothing,” said Richard Reda, 64, of Nashua, N.H., a Vietnam War veteran and self-described political independent.

“I think Congress should go over Bush’s head and get these troops back here. There’s got to be a way where they can override Bush to get the troops back here.”

Peggy Grandinetti, 69, a Republican from Florence, Ala., criticized Congress for not standing by Mr. Bush on the war.

“I just completely disagree of pulling out of Iraq. I think we ought to stay there and finish the job,” said the retired medical assistant.

Richard Henson, 58, of Atlanta, was among the Democrats who said Congress has failed to address a problem with illegal immigration.

“The immigrants are running bills up,” said the post office manager, citing health care and school taxes as examples. “We have to pay extra taxes to support illegal immigrants. I don’t think they should benefit from our services that we’re paying taxes on.”

Republicans were more likely to say Congress wasn’t doing its job (26 percent did so), while Democrats tended to cite a specific issue (24 percent did). Among independents, 22 percent said generally that lawmakers weren’t doing their job, and 20 percent pointed to a specific issue, a list topped by the war in Iraq.

When it came to judging Mr. Bush, 70 percent of Republicans approved of his performance and 27 percent disapproved. Democrats split, with 89 percent disapproving and 9 percent approving, and 68 percent of independents disapproved.

Congress, by contrast, was held in disregard without regard to party.

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