2008 record      


President Obama says he wants to focus his administration's efforts on closing the income gap between rich and poor, and Republicans in Congress have vowed to make immigration reform a top priority this year.

Both are wildly out of touch with the American public, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll.


When asked which should be a top priority of the president and Congress, 49% say the economy and jobs. Another 16% say it should be the national debt. Nine percent name national security.

Just 6% list income inequality as a top priority, and the same minuscule share say it should be immigration. Among independents, immigration ranked even lower as a priority, with just 3% putting it at the top of the list.

Not even Democrats think income inequality or immigration should be a top agenda item. While 47% put the economy and jobs first, just 12% put income inequality at the top of the list, slightly ahead of immigration at 11%.

So far this year, however, the topics du jour have been both of these low-priority items.

Obama late last year called the growing income gap "a fundamental threat" to the country and said closing it would be the "focus of all our efforts." Income inequality also formed the core of his State of the Union address last week, with the president saying that "our job is to reverse these trends."

But fully 61% of those asked say that Obama doesn't have his priorities straight.

And not only does the public think income inequality is a low priority item, most disagree with Obama's approach.

More than two-thirds (67%) say the government's focus should be on increasing opportunities to "produce and earn more," rather than cutting the gap between rich and poor.

This view is shared across the board — by young and old, male and female, black and white, urban and suburban, those with just a high-school diploma and those with college degrees.

Indeed, the only group that thinks otherwise is self-identified liberals, 59% of whom put closing the income gap first over "creating an environment to help people produce and earn more."

Meanwhile, while Obama is agitating for yet another extension of unemployment benefits, 67% say they shouldn't last more than one year, and 55% think providing such benefits for a long time "discourages them from finding work."

One bright spot for Obama is that 62% approve of a minimum wage hike up to $10.10 an hour.

On immigration, meanwhile, Republican leaders in the House issued principles Thursday that they say will guide their immigration reform efforts for the year, which include a path to legal status for those in the U.S. illegally.

House Speaker John Boehner argued that "it's important to act on immigration reform because we're focused on jobs and economic growth, and this is about jobs and growth."

The IBD/TIPP poll finds the public fairly evenly divided on whether immigration reform should focus on securing the border first or whether reform should be "comprehensive." Half say it should be the latter and 43% the former, with the remaining 7% not sure.

Independents, however, are more favorably disposed to securing the border first — 49% say this should be done before granting illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

Other IBD/TIPP Poll findings:

The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index rose 4.9% to 44.7, rebounding from a record low for Obama. But the gauge remained below the neutral 50 level for the 11th straight month.

More than one in five (22%) say someone in their household is looking for a job, and half think the country is in a recession.

More than three-quarters (77%) don't think Iran can be trusted to keep its side of a deal on nuclear weapons, and 60% don't think the U.S. will be able to stop Iran from developing nukes.

Half of the public think NSA surveillance is "overreaching and unnecessary."

Fewer than half of Democrats (46%) think free-market capitalism is a good idea, while 64% of Republicans think the U.S. is evolving into a socialist state.

While 60% say they had followed the bridge closure controversy surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, more gave him high marks for his handling of the situation after the story broke than low ones (41%-29%).

That could change with new claims Friday that Christie knew about the bridge closures.

A majority (51%) continue to oppose ObamaCare, with 58% saying the implementation of it has been poor.

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