Americans are deeply divided on Barack Obama's first year in the White House, and the president's ratings on priority issues health care and the economy have hit new lows, polls showed Tuesday.
Polling also suggests independent voters are turning away from the president as he nears the anniversary of his inauguration on January 20 -- though in a sign of hope for his administration, he remains more popular than his policies.
A CBS News poll showed Obama's job approval rating at 46 percent, marking the first time he had polled below 50 percent in the survey.
President Barack Obama ends his first year in office with his to-do list still long and his unfulfilled campaign promises stacked high.
From winding down the war in Iraq to limiting lobbyists, Obama has made some progress. But the president has faced political reality and accepted — sometimes grudgingly — compromises that leave him exposed to criticism. Promises that have proven difficult include pledges not to raise taxes, to curb earmarks and to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba by the end of his first year.
"We are moving systematically to bring about change, but change is hard," Obama told a town hall crowd in California. "Change doesn't happen overnight."
That was in March.
President Barack Obama lashed out Thursday at "obscene" corporate bonuses and proposed a fee to raise 90 billion dollars in 10 years from top banks to recoup "every single dime" of a Wall Street bailout.
"We want our money back and we are going to get it," Obama said, terming a massive government bailout of the banking industry as "distasteful" though necessary, adding it left the sector with a heavy duty to taxpayers.
"My determination to achieve this goal is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people," Obama said.
The White House is firing back at Rush Limbaugh after the conservative talk radio host urged people not to donate to relief efforts in Haiti.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs says there are always people who say "really stupid things" during a crisis. He says it's sad that Limbaugh would use the power of his pulpit to convince people not to assist those in need.
Limbaugh said on his radio show Wednesday that he wouldn't trust that money donated to Haiti through the White House Web site would actually go to the relief efforts. He said Americans don't need to contribute to earthquake relief because they already donate to Haiti through their income taxes.
Striving to close the deal on health care, President Barack Obama planned a trip to Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge rank-and-file House Democrats to yield on key issues still standing in the way of a historic legislative achievement.
Obama's late afternoon visit comes amid intense White House negotiations with Democratic leaders aimed at settling core differences between the House and Senate that must be resolved before the sweeping overhaul legislation can pass.
Public support for the health care remake continues to drop, perhaps in part because of the messy debate in Congress, and lawmakers are feeling the press of other issues, from unemployment to ballooning budget deficits.
President Barack Obama says he has not succeeded in bringing the country together, acknowledging an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.
"That's what's been lost this year ... that whole sense of changing how Washington works," Obama said in an interview with People magazine.
The president said his second-year agenda will be refocused on uniting the country around common values, "whether we're Democrats or Republicans."
"We all want work that's satisfying, pays the bills and gives children a better future and security," Obama said in the interview, which the magazine conducted with the president and his wife, Michelle Obama, at the White House last Friday.
The White House Tuesday argued President Barack Obama's "steady diplomacy" had made America stronger and renewed its moral authority despite "unprecedented challenges" in his first year in office.
But the assessment, posted on the White House website, did not dwell on the lack of success garnered by one of Obama's top priority foreign policy drives, peace moves in the Middle East, and reflected a tougher tone on Iran.
"A year later, America is stronger because of the president's leadership," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, in a White House blog post.
President Barack Obama is trumpeting a new White House estimate that his top economist calls "stunning": His stimulus plan has already created or saved up to 2 million jobs.
The analysis is part of the administration's quarterly report to Congress on the controversial $787 billion package of spending and tax cuts he signed weeks after taking office.
Obama planned to highlight the report Wednesday during a visit to a Lanham, Md., training center for union electricians that specializes in "green" technology.
Republicans have denounced the stimulus plan as an expensive flop, pointing to a national unemployment rate stuck at 10 percent and December figures showing the economy shed 85,000 more jobs.
With congressional negotiators starting to make decisions on a final health overhaul bill, top Democrats are hoping a White House session with President Barack Obama will narrow differences between the House and Senate.
Obama was to meet Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democratic leaders to discuss the massive legislation. Negotiators from the White House and the two chambers have begun closed-door meetings already and seem likely to abandon a House-approved surtax on the wealthy even as they consider extending the Medicare payroll tax to investment income of high earners, Democratic officials said.
The leader of the biggest U.S. labor federation warned President Barack Obama on Monday that failure to act quickly on unemployment would be "suicidal" and would put the Democrats' control of Congress at risk.
In a strongly worded speech delivered hours before a White House meeting with labor leaders, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged Democrats to deliver "genuine healthcare reform" and job growth or risk a repeat of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.
Obama won strong backing from trade unions in his presidential campaign and it is crucial for him to retain the support of working class voters before mid-term Congressional elections in November