Congressional approval ratings

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new Gallup poll says Congress has sunk to a new low in confidence, respect, and popularity.

In fact, Gallup says it's the lowest level it has found for any institution it has polled since 1973.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's a well-deserved distinction for a group of men and women that has never found a gridlock not to its liking.


I truly cannot figure out why Congress doesn't get it, but there they arethe numbers from one of the most respected polling outfits in the country say it as starkly plain as it can be said: nine out of ten people just don't like Congress.

And just to be clearof that ten percentonly six percent of them think Congress is doing an okay job.

In its poll, Gallup also asked people what they thought of institutions like banks, the Supreme Court, the Presidency, organized labor, and health maintenance organizations.

But only Congress had a 90 percent disapproval rating.

And guess what? At least one member of Congress agreed. Senator Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, who won't seek reelection three years from now said Congress' rating was deserved.

"Look," he said, "we're incompetent. I think it fully appropriate."

Sometimes when people see light at the end of their tenure, they respond with unusual honesty.

Most people told Gallup they were fed up with partisan bickering, gridlock, and an inability to get anything done. On top of that, with all 435 members of the House up for reelection every two years, the people worry politicians spend too much time, effort, and money trying to stay in office than they do conducting the nation's business.

Not to mention the fear that Congress men and women become clay in the hands of the big money special interest groups.

Curiously, despite their horrible ranking in the public trust, the same people who hold them in such low esteem do, with great regularity, return them over and over again to their offices in Washingtonwhere the disconnect between the beltway and main street festers and mutates.

How else can we explain the never-ending effort by increasingly radical conservative Republicans to find ways to erode Roe vs. Wadewhich is the law of the land on abortionwhile remaining gridlocked in its effort to come up with a desperately needed, fair-minded, effective way to deal with immigration?

Remember the political recriminations against President Obama after the bailout of general motors?

Well, just for the record, the J.D. Power quality survey came out yesterday, and guess who's at the top of the list.

Yep. GMC trucks and Chevrolet cars.

They displaced Toyota and Honda. They're making money.

Has anyone from Congress said "Way to go, Mr. President. Way to go, GM!"

Nope. Not a peep.

But the same Gallup survey does point out that the President has an approval rating of 50 percent.

I do believe that most people who run for office are noble people who believe that, somehow, through their best efforts this country will be a better place.

And then things happen.

Pressures from within, pressures from without.

Lobbyists with their bags of cash and bureaucrats with their promises for the future. Things happen.

I was friends a number of years ago with a radical liberal lawyer who was a passionate defender of lost causes. He was invited to speak to the University of Kentucky Law School's moot court graduation dinner.

After a long, rambling speech, he came to his final stern warning and admonition.

"You're all sitting here tonight starry-eyed and anxious to get out there to change the system. But," he said, "I submit to you here that the system has great power, and it will change you long before you change it."

Maybe he was right.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.