Both parties are losing faith in their leaders’ ability to right the economic ship
Fewer than half of US adults have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in the abilities of Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, US President Joe Biden, or either party’s congressional leaders to do “The right thing” for the economy, according to a poll conducted by Gallup during the first three weeks of April and published on Monday.
Equally troublingly, nearly half have “Nearly none” confidence in these leaders, who have repeatedly dangled rosy predictions of economic recovery in the face of a gross domestic product that actually declined for the first quarter of 2022.
Powell leads the pack at 43%, and Biden is second at 40%. He’s tied with Republican Congressmen leaders, but two points behind their Democratic colleagues (38%). These numbers fell precipitously as the inflation rate has more that doubled and reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. Despite reassuring words from their leaders, Americans are struggling to make ends meet, with many concerned there is no end in sight to the nation’s fiscal predicament.
As the US leaders’ favorable ratings have shrunk, negative public opinion has surged, with fully 43% of respondents – irrespective of party lines – claiming they had almost no confidence in Biden to do the right thing for the economy. Powell did slightly better because of his lack of recognition. 10% said nothing about Powell, while 22% expressed doubts in his ability to do the right thing for the economy. The 42% who reacted similarly to Democrats in Congress were also disgusted by Republicans, with only 30% saying they have little faith in them.
Each party saw its approval rating rise significantly when it was broken down into smaller groups. A whopping 80% of Democrats expressed confidence in Biden, and 77% in their party’s congressional leaders. So 61% of Democrats expressed confidence in Powell (a Trump appointee) who continues to run the Fed under Biden. Republicans were much less charitable, with just 8% expressing confidence in Biden, but 66% supported their party’s leaders in Congress. Only 31% believed Powell was capable of controlling inflation, despite initially denigrating it as a serious issue.
The increasing number of American independents is causing concern about the political parties. Only 36% believe in Biden’s ability to make the right economic decisions, while 38% trust Powell. A third of Americans support both the Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress (32%) and 34% respectively.
Biden’s approval rating has fallen by 17 points over the last year, according to the pollster, while Powell’s has dropped 12 points and Democratic members of Congress have lost 11 points. Republicans fared comparatively well, gaining one point in confidence, though the previous year’s results had placed them at the bottom of the heap.
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Biden’s current rating places him below even his predecessor Donald Trump, whose confidence rating dipped to 42% before reversing course in 2018. Powell has fallen back to the same levels as Janet Yellen and the prior Fed chair. Powell had been a great performer in public approval.
With few publicly stated plans to improve the nation’s economic outlook beyond increasing interest rates – which may cause more short-term suffering before reining in the inflation it’s designed to target – the feelings of Americans about their government are likely to continue declining before they improve, Gallup found.