Government Gets Low Marks on Health Care, Environment

(CN) – Public approval of the way the federal government is handling several major issues, including ensuring access to health care and protecting the environment, has declined sharply over the last two years, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday.

Opinions about the government’s handling of key issues has also become much more partisan since 2015, according to the results of the Pew survey of more than 1,500 people conducted this month.

Ratings for the government’s handling of access to health care have declined 20 percentage points since 2015, according to the report. Only 36 percent of Americans today say the government is doing a very good job or somewhat good job at ensuring access to health care, compared to 56 percent two years ago.

The public also has a much lower opinion of how the government is protecting the environment and responding to natural disasters. Today, 44 percent of Americans think the government is doing a good job at protecting the environment, down from 59 percent in 2015, and 64 percent believe it is doing a good job at responding to disasters, down from 79 percent.

Only 26 percent of Americans believe the government is doing a good job of helping people get out of poverty, down 10 percentage points from 2015.

There was no issue, among 12 tested by Pew researchers, on which the government’s performance ratings significantly improved. Slightly more Americans today believe that the government is doing a good job of strengthening the economy and managing the immigration system.

Although Republicans are more likely than Democrats to offer positive evaluations of the government’s performance, their evaluations are only modestly more positive today than they were two years ago. Democrats’ opinions, on the other hand, are far less positive.

Only 29 percent of Democrats today say the government is doing a good job in ensuring access to health care, compared to 74 percent in 2015.

Republicans’ opinions of the way the government is handling health care are slightly more positive today – 47 percent believe the government is doing well on this issue, up 7 percent from two years ago.

Despite the sharp decline in public approval of the government’s handling of several issues over the last two years, the Pew report found that there has been little change in the public’s trust in the federal government.

Eighteen percent of Americans today say they trust the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time, an attitude that has changed very little over the past decade, according to the report.

The current level of Republican trust in the government – 22 percent – is relatively low compared with past Republican administrations.

Partisan attitudes about the federal government’s role have not changed much since 2015, according to the Pew report.

More than twice as many Democrats (86 percent) as Republicans (39 percent) say the government should play a major role in ensuring access to health care, and 80 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans say the government should have a major role in helping people get out of poverty.

Comparable numbers of people in both parties say that the government should play a major role in defending the country against terrorism, managing the immigration system, responding to natural disasters, maintaining infrastructure and ensuring safe food and medicine.

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