The Washington Post

Why is America so confident in Washington all of a sudden?

In almost every recent poll, the majority of Americans say Republicans in Congress and President Obama do not have the will to compromise on the debt ceiling — mostly out of political gain rather than honest policy differences. Somehow, there’s a certain degree of confidence among respondents that leadership will be able to muster up a deal.

But as American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Rugg points out , it’s not clear where this confidence is coming from all of a sudden.

It’s comforting to see two-thirds of Americans expressing some level of confidence in the political system to resolve this dispute, despite how confidence in our political institutions is appallingly low. In a March 2011 Pew poll, only 29 percent of respondents said they trust the government in Washington to do what is right all the time or most of the time. In Gallup’s 2011 poll on confidence in institutions, a dismal 7 percent of the public have a great deal of trust in Congress; it ranked last out of 16 institutions.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.


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