Anger at Federal Government Reaches New Record

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 19 2013 12:31 PM

Anger at Federal Government Reaches New Record (But People Like its Agencies)

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View taken on November 20, 2009 shows the U.S. Senate and Capitol Dome

Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Americans aren't very happy with their government. In fact, 30 percent of people said they were downright angry at the government in a Pew poll that was conducted just before the Oct. 16 agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. That marks a new high, up from the 26 percent who expressed anger at the government in a September poll. Meanwhile, 55 percent say they are frustrated with the government while only 12 percent say they are basically happy. In parallel, public trust in the government has also dropped to near record lows, with fewer than two in 10 Americans saying they trust Washington to do what is right most of the time.

Even though Americans seem to highly dislike their federal representatives, they do have a good opinion of the vast majority of federal agencies and departments as well as their employees. The only exception? The IRS. The tax agency earned a paltry 44 percent favorable rating in the Pew poll. That may be huge compared to Congress, but small when compared to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has a 75 percent favorable rating. Americans also seem to have a positive view of federal workers, according to Pew and don’t think the American political system is unworkable.  Nearly six-in-ten Americans agree “the political system can work fine, it’s the members of Congress that are the problem.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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