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Congress' brinksmanship isn't winning over the public


The first session of the 112th Congress is ending essentially where it began: in a political stalemate.

Earlier this year, it took the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic-controlled Senate, and the Obama White House until the last minute to avert a government shutdown, which would have furloughed much of the federal workforce.

In the summer, those three bodies battled over raising the debt ceiling. And while they eventually raised it -- again at the last second -- the process led Standard & Poor's to downgrade the United States' credit rating.

And now they're now engaged in a political food fight over extending the payroll tax cut, which expires on Dec. 31.

This constant brinksmanship -- over people's employment, the U.S. credit rating, and Americans' tax cuts -- isn't endearing itself to the public.

According to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, 42% called this Congress' performance "one of the worst" ever, the highest percentage on this question that dates back to 1990. Another 33% called the Congress "below average." So that's three-quarters of the public giving the Congress unsatisfactory grade.

What's more, 69% said they disapproved of the job that Republicans in Congress are doing, while 62% disapprove of the job Democrats are doing.

And asked what the public considers most disappointing about the current Congress, 28% cited partisan disagreement and not getting anything done; 17% said the GOP leadership is unwilling to compromise with Democrats; and 13% agreed that not enough is being done to fix the economy.