As Americans Lose Confidence in Obama, His Spokesman Blames Congress

By Susan Jones | January 27, 2014 | 6:39 AM EST

White House spokesman Jay Carney (AP File Photo)

( - Americans' confidence in President Obama's leadership is slipping as he prepares to deliver his sixth State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 50 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job as president; 55 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy; 59 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling the implementation of the new health care law; 62 percent think things in this country have "gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track"; 51 percent say Obama is not a strong leader; 52 percent say he does not understand the problems of "people like you." And 63 percent have low -- or no -- confidence in Obama's ability to "make the right decisions for the country's future."

"How can the president lead when barely a third trusts his ability to make the right decisions," Jon Karl, the fill-in host of ABC's "This Week," asked White House spokesman Jay Carney on Sunday.

"Jon, I think what we saw last year in 2013 was a Washington that did not deliver for the American people. And the president sees this as a year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary to lift folks who want to come up into the middle class," Carney said.

Karl noted that President Obama, in last year's State of the Union, called for a higher minimum wage, immigration reform, and expanded background checks for gun buyers -- and none of it happened. Why would 2014 be any different,he wondered.

"Those were calls for action that involved Congress," Carney responded. "The president is very disappointed that the Senate failed to heed the will of the vast majority of the American people when it came to expanding background checks.

"On immigration reform, we're actually optimistic that 2014 will be the year that Congress delivers to the president's desk a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill that meets the principles he laid out and that he can sign into law."

As for Americans' disapproval of Obamacare implementation, Carney said "it is absolutely worth it, no matter what happens politically."

"I just disagree that Republicans are going to have a winning issue on this, if they decide to run on it, because they got to explain what repeal means," Carney said.

On another topic, income inequality -- which is expected to be a key element of Obama's speech -- Carney said it's a problem  that's been in the making for "over 30 years."

And he said Republicans who blame Obama for pushing million of Americans into poverty are overlooking "the worst recession since the Great Depression, which was in full bloom when President Obama was sworn into office."