WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's re-election glow is gone. Congress' reputation remains dismal. And only about one in five Americans say they trust the government to do what's right most of the time, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.
Most adults disapprove of Obama's handling of the federal deficit, a festering national problem. But they also dislike key proposals to reduce deficit spending, including a slower growth in Social Security benefits and changes to Medicare.
Rounding out the portrait of a nation in a funk, the share of people saying the United States is heading in the wrong direction is at its highest since last August: 56 percent.
The government in Washington is "dealing with a lot of stuff that are non-issues," said Jeremy Hammond, 33, of Queensbury, N.Y.
Hammond, a Web programmer and political independent, said Congress should focus on "the incredible debt and lack of spending control." He said it's absurd for Congress to force the Postal Service to continue Saturday mail delivery when the agency says "we can't afford it."
Hammond reflects the lukewarm feelings toward Obama found in the poll. Asked his opinion of the president, Hammond paused and said: "I don't know. I voted for him in 2008, not in 2012." When it comes to presidents, he said, "it's one set of lawyers or the other."
Just 7 percent of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right "just about always," the AP-GfK poll found. Fourteen percent say they trust it "most" of the time. Two-thirds trust the federal government only some of the time; 11 percent say they never do.
Obama's overall job approval rating is at its lowest point since his re-election: 50 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. His approval rating among Republicans -- 10 percent -- is back to where it was before the election. Among independents, disapproval has crept up to 49 percent.
With more and more components of the 2010 "Obamacare" health law taking effect, 41 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of health care. That's the lowest level during his time in office.
Ratings of the president's handling of the economy, meanwhile, are back in negative territory, with 52 percent disapproving and 46 percent approving. In last September's run-up to the election, 49 percent said they approved, and 48 percent disapproved.
In the new poll, disapproval among independents on handling the economy is up 10 percentage points since September 2012. It now stands at 57 percent.
Obama's budget proposals are winning few kudos. Fifty-six percent of Americans disapprove of the way he is handling the federal deficit, while 39 percent approve. Those levels have changed little in the past 15 months.
Public support has dropped, however, for proposals recently floated by Obama and others to slow the growth of benefits in the popular but costly Social Security and Medicare programs.
Opposition to raising the Medicare eligibility age has grown over the last few months in AP-GfK polling. Shortly after the fall election, 48 percent opposed such a plan, while 40 percent supported it. Opposition has grown by 11 points since then, with 59 percent now saying they dislike the idea.
Support among Democrats fell from 41 percent last fall to just 27 percent now, with 60 percent opposed.
Curiously, perhaps, the sharpest drop in support for a higher Medicare eligibility age was found among adults under 30. The new poll found 32 percent of them backing the idea, compared to 48 percent last fall. Medicare, the major health care program for seniors, is partly funded by payroll taxes on all wage earners.
Most Americans also oppose a proposal to slow the cost-of-living hikes in Social Security benefits. Now, 54 percent oppose the idea, up slightly from January, when 49 percent opposed it. Only about a quarter favor it.
Donald Roberts of Kingsport, Tenn., is among those who want no changes to Medicare and Social Security. "Leave them alone," he said, "because it's all you can do to get by on it."
Roberts, 57, a political independent and former construction worker, receives disability benefits and is diabetic. He said Medicare pays for his doctor visits, but he must cover some of his medications' cost.
Roberts also shared the often-heard disenchantment with Obama. "He's OK, I guess," Roberts said. "I wouldn't have voted for him."
Hammond, the 33-year-old Web programmer, holds a different view of Medicare and Social Security.
"They are critical programs," he said, "but we should start privatizing some of that stuff."