WASHINGTON — For all the talk of recovery, Americans are growing increasingly pessimistic about the economy as soaring gas costs strain already-tight budgets. So far, people aren’t taking it out on President Barack Obama, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.
Even so, the survey highlights a central challenge Obama will face in his campaign for re-election. The president will have to convince a lot of voters who are still feeling financial hardship that things are getting better.
Obama’s approval ratings have held steady at around 50 percent over the past month. But the disconnect between negative perceptions of the economy and signs that a rebound are under way could provide an opening for Republicans at the outset of the 2012 campaign.
In the survey, just a sliver of Americans — 15 percent — said they believed the economy had improved over the past month, compared with 30 percent who had thought that in January. Only a third were optimistic of better times ahead for the country, down from about half earlier this year. And 28 percent thought the economy would get worse, the largest of slice of people who have expressed that sentiment since the question was first asked in December 2009.
House Republicans seek IRS probe of AARP
WASHINGTON — AARP lobbied for the new health care law and now it stands to profit, Republican lawmakers charged Wednesday as they called for the IRS to investigate whether the powerful interest group representing millions of older Americans should be stripped of its federal tax exemption.
Three veteran GOP representatives released a report that estimates the seniors lobby could make an additional $1 billion over 10 years on health insurance plans whose sales are expected to pick up under the new law. They also questioned seven-figure compensation for some AARP executives.
“Based on the available evidence, substantial questions remain about whether AARP should maintain its tax-exempt status,” said the report, released by Reps. Wally Herger of California, Charles Boustany of Louisiana and Dave Reichert of Washington.
AARP said profit had nothing to do with its support for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, which expands coverage to nearly all Americans, a goal that the organization has long pursued.
“Our decision to support health care reform was in no way, shape or form influenced by revenue considerations,” said spokesman Jim Dau. Polls show that seniors are more likely to oppose the new law than younger people, partly because the coverage for the uninsured will be financed by slowing the growth of Medicare spending.