December 27, 2011

Obama's approval rating tops disapproval rating for the first time since July (VIDEO)

Victory over Republicans on payroll tax cut gives President a boost

President Obama’s victory last week over Republicans on the payroll tax cut was a Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Buoyed by his successful battle to avoid taking more money out of the payckecks of some 160 million Americans, the President’s approval rating topped his disapproval rating in a Gallup poll for the first time since July.

Some 47% of those polled approved of the job Obama was doing, up 5 percentage points since mid-December, when the President’s showdown with Republicans over extending the Social Security payroll tax cut was heating up. His disapproval rating in that poll was 45%.

Last week, after the President stood his ground on the important populist issue, and even made a concession on a GOP-backed oil pipeline between Canada and the U.S. Gulf Coast, House Republicans caved and grudgingly agreed to pass a two-month extension of the tax cuts. Lawmakers will begin negotiating a full-year extension of the cuts early next year.

Without the extension, the average American worker would have paid $1,000 more in payroll taxes starting Jan. 1.

House Republicans at first balked at the idea of extending the payroll tax break, but then pivoted and argued that they wanted more than the measly 60-day extension hammered out in a Senate compromise. But the opposition crumpled because it was seen within the party as taking the GOP’s key selling point — opposing tax hikes — and gift-wrapping it for Obama with a presidential election looming.

The latest Gallup survey indicates the President not only avoided any blowback from the fight, but has improved his standing with the public.

The compromise deal — approved by the Senate with the help of 39 Republican votes — requires the White House to make a decision in 60 days on the oil pipeline, along with an extension of unemployment benefits for some 2.3 million Americans.

The deal also staved off a 27% cut in the Medicare reimbursement rate for doctors, which also would have kicked in Jan. 1.

The one-year payroll tax break, which funds Social Security, meant a loss of $112 billion in 2011. But the Social Security fund did not suffer the loss, however, because the feds borrowed extra money to fill the gap.

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