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Public Concerns Grow Over Obama Policies

New public opinion polls indicate that while President Barack Obama remains personally popular, doubts are emerging about his economic policies.

Two new national surveys paint a picture of growing public concern about the U.S. budget deficit and government intervention in the economy.

Government intervention

A poll by The Wall Street Journal newspaper and NBC News found that 58 percent of those asked want the president and Congress to focus more on the deficit than boosting the economy. In addition, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed expressed concerns about government intervention in the economy, including efforts to save the U.S. auto industry.

Pollster Peter Hart was interviewed about the survey on MSNBC television.

"I think what is happening with the president right now is that they continue to like him personally; they see him as a charismatic leader," said Peter Hart. "But I think the difficulty is that he is making a lot of tough choices and those are the things that are coming back to haunt him."

Overall approval rating down

The president's overall approval rating in the Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll was 56 percent - down from 61 percent in April.

Similar concerns about the deficit and government spending were evident in another survey conducted by The New York Times newspaper and CBS News.

But that poll also found that Mr. Obama remains personally popular with voters, according to CBS pollster Sarah Dutton.

"Sixty-three percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president overall, and 57 percent - just under six in ten - approve of the job he is doing handling the economy," said Sarah Dutton.

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs reacted to the polls at the White House.

"I think the American people are rightly anxious and concerned about the economy, just as the president is," said Robert Gibbs.

Obama acknowledges concerns

President Obama specifically acknowledged public concerns about the deficit in a recent interview with CNBC television.

"This is something that keeps me awake at night," said President Obama. "As soon as this economy recovers, and that means planning now and starting to take some steps now to deal with it, we are going to have to close that gap between the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out."

Honeymoon over?

The poll results come as the president is about to mark his first five months in office - a period during which he has enjoyed strong support in public opinion surveys and what many political experts often call an extended honeymoon.

But in recent weeks, opposition Republicans have intensified their criticism of the administration's economic agenda and have accused the White House of further spending the country into debt.

The political challenges for the Obama administration are expected to get even more complicated in the months ahead.

Health care reform

The president has made health care reform a priority and a debate has opened in Congress on how to expand health care coverage for the uninsured while reducing health care costs.

This is Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut:

"I'm not going to accept failure and I hope you won't either," said Senator Dodd.

Republicans worried

Republicans are sounding alarm bells about the president's health care plan, warning it sends the country further into debt.

This is Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Obama's opponent in last year's presidential election.

"And I suggest we not move forward until we have some provision as to how we are going to pay for it," said Senator McCain.

Despite the concerns in the polls about the deficit, the Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey also showed that 46 percent of Americans believe the economy will improve in the year ahead - up from 38 percent in April.