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President Obama's approval ratings have dropped so low he's vulnerable to the Republicans, even before they've chosen a candidate. We hear from supporters and critics and ask if he can provide what next year's voters will be looking for. Also, Fitch reaffirms the United States' AAA rating, and the federal gasoline tax is about to expire. What will that mean in Washington?

Banner image: President Barack Obama waves to people along the road in Decorah, Iowa, Aug. 15, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest focusing on ways to grow the economy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Making News Fitch Reaffirms United States' AAA Rating 7 MIN, 33 SEC

Standard & Poor's shook the financial world by downgrading America's credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history. Then Moody's disagreed. Today, the third agency of its kind, Fitch Ratings, says "the key pillars" of the country's "exceptional creditworthiness remain in tact." It retained the AAA rating, too. Jeffrey Manns is Associate Professor of Law at George Washington University.

Jeffrey Manns, George Washington University

Main Topic Whatever Happened to 'Hope' and 'Change?' 32 MIN, 7 SEC

As the field of Republican challengers appears to be taking shape, President Obama's approval ratings are at their lowest point ever. Liberal Democrats, who expected a tough leader, say he's capitulated to Wall Street bankers and Tea Party extremists in Congress. Independents also perceive a lack of leadership and failure to keep the promise to tame Washington's mean-spirited partisanship. Defenders say Obama inherited two wars and a collapsing economy, but still got some stimulus, healthcare, and finance reform, despite Republican opposition. Does the President still have time to bring Congress together, shore up the economy and regain his credibility with taxpaying voters?



Segment image: Supporters 'stand up' for candidate Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign. Photo by Michal Czerwonka/AFP/Getty Images

Frank Newport, Gallup Poll (@gallup)
Robert Scheer, Host, 'Scheer Intelligence' (@Robert_Scheer)
Michael Grunwald, Politico magazine (@MikeGrunwald)
Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Reporter's Notebook Gas Tax May Be Next Funding Battle 10 MIN, 53 SEC

Congress will return from its summer vacation on September 6. On September 30, federal gasoline and diesel taxes are set to expire. Will renewal be Washington's next major battle? The federal tax on gasoline is 18.4¢ a gallon. On diesel fuel it's 24.4¢ a gallon. That's $100 million a day for the Highway Trust Fund, providing $35 billion a year to road and transit projects run by states nationwide. Keith Laing writes for The Hill, a newspaper widely read by Capitol insiders.

Keith Laing, The Hill

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