Topics: Veterans Affairs

Dangerous precedent: Americans have greater faith in police, military than three branches of U.S. government

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Congress,Barack Obama,Supreme Court,Veterans Affairs,IRS,Becket Adams

Gallup reported this week that Americans now have more confidence in the police and the military than they do in the three branches of the U.S. government -- which is not exactly a healthy place to be in a constitutional republic.

Approximately 39 percent of survey respondents say have a “great deal” of confidence in the military, while 35 percent have “quite a lot” of confidence. Further, according to Gallup survey data, 25 percent of respondents say they have a “great deal” of confidence in the police, while 28 percent say they have “quite a lot.”

Meanwhile, Congress' approval rating has dropped to just 7 percent, according to a Gallup survey dated June 5-8, while the Supreme Court has slipped to a mere 30 percent.

But the sharpest drop in confidence this year can be seen in the executive branch, which has declined to a six-year-low of just 29 percent, down seven points from its previous posting of 36 percent.

The White House's plunging confidence rating is directly linked to President Obama's handling of the burgeoning Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups and his widely unpopular decision to trade Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who may have deserted his unit in 2009, for five top-ranking Taliban officers.

However, despite the sharp decline in the White House’s approval rating, it doesn’t appear that the Obama administration is all that concerned with damage control.

In fact, it was just last week at a high-roller fundraiser that the president scoffed at his critics in Congress, accusing Republican lawmakers of chasing “phony scandals.”

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,027 random U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, focused on public opinion on 16 separate U.S. institutions.

Unsurprisingly, Congress rates the lowest of all institutions tracked by Gallup.

What is surprising, however, is that both the Supreme Court and the White House have seen plunging approval ratings in recent years. These two institutions generally poll better than Congress, as Congress is historically unpopular, and it’s different to see the two non-legislative branches head south in the polls.

“Since June 2013, confidence has fallen seven points for the presidency, four points for the Supreme Court, and three points for Congress. Confidence in each of the three branches of government had already fallen from 2012 to 2013,” Gallup reported.

“Confidence in the presidency is now the lowest it has been under President Barack Obama, as is confidence in Congress and the Supreme Court, given their historical lows. When Obama first took office in 2009, each of the three branches saw a jump in confidence from their dismally low ratings in George W. Bush's final two years in the White House,” the report added.

And the takeaway from the new Gallup poll isn’t exactly heartening: Americans are losing faith in the ability of constitutional government to lead the nation. They don’t trust the White House, they don’t trust the Supreme Court and they certainly don’t trust Congress.

“Members of Congress are likely resigned to the fact that they are the most distrusted institution of government, but there should be concern that now fewer than one in 10 Americans have confidence in their legislative body,” Gallup warns.

“While the Supreme Court, with unelected justices serving indefinite terms, is immune to the same public pressures that elected members of Congress and the president must contend with, it is not immune to the drop in confidence in U.S. government institutions that threatens and complicates the U.S. system of government."

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