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US Congress’ Popularity at All-Time Low

As Americans head into the Christmas holidays, the U.S. Congress is again gridlocked. President Barack Obama and his Republican rivals seem poised to fight it out rather than reach an agreement over tax increases set to take effect January 1.

Washington gridlock may be fueling an anti-incumbent mood among voters, with Congress’ popularity extremely low as voters head into next year’s elections.

It’s Christmas time in Washington, but members of Congress are not feeling jolly. The latest squabble between Democrats and Republicans is over whether to extend a popular payroll tax cut through the holidays.

"We oppose that bill because the two-month extension will create more uncertainty for job creators in our country when millions of Americans are out of work," stated Representative John Boehner, (R), U.S. House Speaker.

"If we do not have a middle income tax cut, if we do not have a payroll tax cut come January 1 it will be because of the Tea Party minority within the Republican majority," said Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader.

Even the president weighed in.

“It’s no secret that there hasn’t been an abundance of partisanship this year,” President Barack Obama added.

It’s gridlock again, with a tax hike imminent.  That’s something neither side wants to see now, with Americans tiring of the endless fights on Capitol Hill.

“It’s disgusting…  beyond disgusting … I mean I just think Congress is disgusting,“ Ann MacDonald, a concerned citizen stated.

“I don’t think much of Congress right now," stated Maureen Canick, another concerned citizen. "I think that they are not performing, not cooperating and are doing a crummy job.”

Matthew Dallek runs the University of California’s Washington Center and teaches politics and history.  He says a poor economy fuels some discontent.  But there's more to it.

“Congress is in the single digits, maybe they have broken the double digits, according to some of these polls they are more unpopular now than they have even been," he noted. "I think people just perceive Congress as fighting and fighting and fighting over every issue and they are sick of it.”

Dallek and others say Republican Party members known as Tea Partiers are responsible for some of the impasses.

“They are not interested in building consensus.  Their attitude is that we came to Washington to shake things up, to change the dynamic and to stand for limited government principle, and their attitude is we don’t care whose toes we step on, we don’t care if there’s gridlock,” he said.

They say it’s what their constituents want.  And while many Americans disapprove of Congress, they may approve of their own congressman.  But will they like a tax hike?

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