Just 29% think President Obama has done a good job managing the VA in the wake of the department's patient-care scandal, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll, while 43% surveyed say he's done a poor job and 22% rate his performance as only average.
Meanwhile, 63% say Obama was either disengaged (29%) or that he "knows more than he claims" (34%) about the scandal.
The White House has insisted Obama had only heard about the scandal — which involved chronic delays in care for veterans using the system, and attempts at several Veterans Affairs hospitals to cover up those delays — after it was reported in the media. However, news accounts and audits of chronic delays and suspicious bookkeeping date back years.
Blame Managers Not Money
The public also overwhelmingly rejects the notion that money was the chief reason for the VA scandal.
Fully 70% of those surveyed in the June poll say poor management of available resources was the main problem at the VA; just 20% believe it was lack of money. These views hold true across the entire demographic and ideological range surveyed in the poll.
As IBD reported recently, the VA's budget has exploded in recent years, even as delays worsened. Overall spending by the VA nearly tripled in the past 13 years, and spending per patient has climbed at nearly three times the rate of Medicare spending.
The scandal has also raised concerns among the public about government-run health care in general. More than three-quarters of those surveyed (76%) say they are concerned about "a government health system in light of news stories about the VA situation." Even among Democrats, 58% say the scandal raised concerns.
However, only a slight majority (51%) wanted the former head of the VA, Eric Shinseki, to resign. Shinseki stepped down on Friday amid increasing calls from Republicans and Democrats for him to leave office.
The IBD/TIPP poll shows that the VA scandal has so far not hurt Obama's overall approval ratings.
In fact, Obama's job approval climbed slightly to 44% in June from 42% in May. And 43% give him good marks on his overall per formance, up from 38% in May.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index rose 0.3 point in June to 45, the third straight gain and the highest in a year. But that's still below the neutral 50.
The poll also found that approval of ObamaCare has remained largely unchanged since the administration announced that 8 million people picked a health plan through an ObamaCare exchange. Obama said when he announced that news that debate over the law was "over."
The poll found that 43% support the law, compared with 48% who oppose it. Support among Republicans was 9%. Among independents, 43% approve of the law and 51% oppose it.
Meanwhile, 42% say the law should be repealed, while 26% said it should be left as is.
Critics of the law said that the 8 million figure was an exaggeration because it included those who hadn't paid their first month's premium. As some states report paid enrollment, those critics appear to be right.
ObamaCare Payment Rates
In South Carolina, for example, 29% of 118,000 the administration counted as signed up didn't pay their first premium . In Alabama, 18% hadn't paid. Some other states that have reported such numbers had higher payment rates.
Other findings from the poll:
44% think the economy is in a recession, 4 points lower than in May (the survey was only partially completed before the Commerce Department reported that GDP contracted 1% in the first quarter).
The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index rose 4.1% to 47.7, recouping most of May's decline. But the sentiment gauge has been below the neutral 50 level for 20 straight months.
Just 39% are satisfied with the direction of the country, down from 41% in May.
Only 17% say past discrimination justifies preferential treatment of one race over another.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Democrats think Obama's approval ratings are low because he's black. Just 18% of Republicans and 35% of independents say so.