WASHINGTON, Sept 15, 2009 (AFP) - Fresh from a speech on Wall Street, a new poll out Tuesday found President Barack Obama winning a mild 51-percent approval rating on dealing with the economy.
The Washington Post poll delivered the Democrat an even lower assessment on how he has handled the federal budget deficit: 39 percent.
The lukewarm embrace of Obama's performance on the economy comes despite several signs that economically the worst may be over.
"There has been no letup in public fears about possible financial hardship ahead and there is broad concern that not enough is being done to avert another meltdown," Post pollsters said.
"Among those who say they are concerned about future job losses or pay cuts, Obama's approval rating on handling the economy has dropped from 62 percent in February to 45 percent now, while it has remained steady among those who are less anxious," they added.
Almost six in 10 Americans are now concerned about job or pay losses in the coming months, the survey found.
In New York Monday Obama bluntly warned that some Wall Street bosses were ignoring lessons of the financial crisis, as he demanded a new age of prudence after bloated years of unchecked excess.
"The old ways that led to this crisis cannot stand," Obama said, in an outspoken address delivered in the shadow of US finance firms he blamed for unleashing global contagion. "History cannot be allowed to repeat itself."
A year after Lehman Brothers failed, triggering the meltdown, Obama also called on Congress to act this year on regulatory reforms he hailed as the most sweeping bid to tame industry over-exuberance since the Great Depression.
While blaming much of the crisis on the United States, Obama made clear a week ahead of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh that he would press global powers to do more to rein in financial industry abuses.
Still, the Post poll found that while 49 percent of those surveyed were confident adequate new financial regulations are being implemented, only one in 10 voiced complete faith that this is taking place.
And an even lower number said they thought major financial institutions were adapting business practices to avert another megacrisis: 41 percent said they trusted it was happening, and eight percent were "very confident" that was the case, the Post reported.
Also on Monday Obama received a 52-48 percent approval rating from Rasmussen's presidential tracking poll, a bump of two percentage points that gives him his best ratio since mid-July.
Support for his health care reform plans was at its highest level since Rasmussen began polling on the issue at the end of June, but Obama still only has the slenderest majority of Americans behind him on the proposals.
Fifty-one percent told the polling agency they favored the passage of his plans, while 46 percent were opposed.
Obama, criticized by some for waiting too long to go on the offensive after an August of feisty town hall meetings during which Republican-led opposition received almost blanket media coverage, is hitting back hard now.
He addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday and followed it up with a CBS interview released on Sunday in which he assailed Republicans for attempting to cynically kill off his proposals to cripple his presidency.
Obama has vowed to pass legislation by the end of the year that would spread coverage to America's 47 million uninsured by making insurance obligatory and affordable for all.