- - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama and the Democrats woke up Tuesday morning to the stunning headline that his approval ratings have plunged to the “lowest point” in his presidency.

Even worse, polls showed he was losing support among his party’s political base, which has become increasingly disenchanted and divided over his trouble-plagued health insurance law, not to mention his terrible performance in a job-starved, anemic economy.

In the past month, Mr. Obama’s job-disapproval score has shot up to 63 percent among independents, and up to 50 percent among self-described moderates, two of the key swing voter blocs that helped him win a second term.

Opposition to his health care law has soared to a record high of 57 percent, with 46 percent saying they’re “strongly against it,” according to The Washington Post’s latest poll. Still, his failing grades from voters run even deeper than this: 63 percent disapprove of his handling of the bungled, widely unpopular health care program, up from 53 percent last month.

At the same time, a growing number of Americans see him an incompetent chief executive who’s out of touch with his administration and the policies he has championed. “For the first time in Obama’s presidency, a bare majority of Americans, 52 percent, say they have an unfavorable impression of him,” the newspaper reported.

“Half or more now say he is not a strong leader, does not understand the problems of ‘people like you,’ and is not honest and trustworthy,” the survey found.

These sharply declining numbers are not just the result of the collapse of Obamacare in in the past several weeks. They have been on a downward slide all year. Among registered voters, perceptions of Mr. Obama as a strong leader have fallen 15 points since January and 12 points on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.

His overall approval score has dropped to 42 percent, down 6 points in a month, with his disapproval rating at 55 percent. Other polls, such as Gallup, showed his approval rating falling to near 40 percent. A Quinnipiac University survey, among others, has it slipping into the 30s.

The bleak political reality that was slowly dawning on his top White House advisers is that Mr. Obama’s numbers are not going to be turned around anytime soon by a quick fix of Obamacare.

Administration insiders tell reporters that the healthcare.gov software’s obstacle-plagued, online application program will not be fixed by the latest deadline at the end of this month. Early applications were embarrassingly minuscule — 106,000 — when tens of millions of beneficiaries, including younger, healthy people, are needed to make the government-run program financially viable.

Worsening the White House’s troubles was the president’s flip-flop to let individuals buy insurance policies without the costly, new benefits the law prescribes. Most of the states’ regulators rebelled, saying they were not sure their state laws would allow them to do that.

“Honestly, it’s just a big mess right now … . I don’t know what to tell people,” said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

Meantime, the president’s party is coming apart at the seams on Capitol Hill, as vulnerable Democrats who voted for Obamacare and are up for re-election next year fear a massive political backlash against them from angry voters.

House Republicans seized on their opportunity last week to bring up a bill that would allow Americans to keep their canceled insurance policies. Senior White House advisers held hastily called, closed-door meetings with Democrats, pleading with them to stand firm behind Obamacare.

When the roll was called, 39 skittish House Democrats abandoned Mr. Obama and voted for the Republican-sponsored bill, which went much further than the president’s temporary, one-year reprieve.

The GOP measure would allow Americans to keep the health insurance policies they had purchased for as long as they wanted. The White House said Mr. Obama would veto it, if it reached his desk.

Looking a bit deeper into that vote, it was a “run for cover” sign of how politically lethal the Obamacare law has become in Congress. Among the 26 members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Frontline” incumbent-protection group, 23 voted for the GOP bill to water down Obamacare.

Besides polling evidence that Americans are turning sharply against Obamacare, there were broader signs that a majority was opposed to any intrusion by the federal government into the nation’s privately run health care system.

Gallup released polling figures Monday that showed 56 percent of Americans surveyed did not think it was the government’s responsibility to make sure all of our citizens had health care coverage.

This is a stunning reversal in the mood of the country as more Americans have begun experiencing the sudden loss of their economic freedoms and the job-killing disruptions under Obamacare’s punishing mandates. Prior to 2009, “a clear majority consistently said government should take responsibility for ensuring all Americans have health care,” Gallup said.

Throughout the year, the news media has been gleefully telling us that the Republicans were going to suffer huge political losses in the 2014 elections for the brief, partial government shutdown and their persistent opposition to Obamacare and other administration policies. They’re not pushing that partisan line anymore on the nightly network news. It’s the Democrats who are now threatened by widespread losses in Congress for trying to shove Obamacare down our throats.

It’s Mr. Obama who is poised to go down in flames as one of the most incompetent presidents in our history.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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