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Saturday, December 3, 2016

The current overblown financial brouhaha is perhaps more accurately described as the fiscal “curb,” since the only “cliff” is the one the GOP has fallen from in the minds of the majority of Americans. Two new polls released today show the public sides with President Obama and the Democrats in the negotiations, while House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans hold historically low approval ratings.

Both the NBC/Wall Street Journal and Pew Research Center polls show the president’s job approval rating exceeding 50 percent. According to Pew, Obama’s 11-point jump from January to a post-election 55 percent in December contrasts sharply with George W. Bush’s 10-point decline to 48 percent in his 2004 re-election year.

And while the Pew poll shows a healthy 55 percent of the public believe President Obama is making a serious effort to reach a budget deal, only 32 percent believe Republican leaders are making a serious effort to work with the president. Only 25 percent of those surveyed by Pew approve of the job Republican congressional leaders are doing, while the Democrats received a 40-percent job approval rating. Boehner’s approval rating is only 28 percent. The NBC/WSJ poll put the GOP last in the ratings of 11 political figures and institutions and 45 percent of respondents gave the Grand Old Party a somewhat or very negative rating.

Both surveys show President Obama has a clear mandate to raise the tax rate on household incomes above $250,000, with the approval results at 69 percent for Pew and 59 percent for NBC/WSJ. Also, 68 percent of NBC/WSJ respondents say the president has a mandate to cut taxes on middle-class families earning less than $250,000.

The majority of Pew respondents oppose raising the Medicare and Social Security eligibility age and are against federal cuts to transportation, education, programs for the poor, and the military.

Also in the NBC/WSJ poll, reflecting a major shift in public opinion, for the first time a majority of respondents — 51 percent — support marriage equality.

But Republicans could have much bigger problems to deal with than a popular president and their own unpopular ideas. A GOP pollster recently concluded that the Republican Party has “run out of white voters” and risks becoming a “regional party,” as the last election proved, with the overwhelming minority turnout for Obama and the Democrats and formerly red states such as Virginia and Florida going Obama-blue again.

Photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak

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