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What public institution do Americans trust least? Congress, of course

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Jason Reed/Reuters

(Read caption) Protesters demonstrate against health care reform outside the US Capitol Building in March.

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A Gallup poll released today found that the American public's confidence in Congress is at a record low, despite many political experts calling this session of Congress one of its most productive in decades.

Only 11 percent of Americans say they have some level of confidence in Congress, placing it dead last among the 16 institutions rated in Gallup's 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll. The poll shows that the public has always had little faith in Congress compared to other institutions. But does it seem counterintuitive for confidence to be at its lowest, after Congress succeeded in passing sweeping reforms in the health care and financial industries?

Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, doesn’t think so.

The results of the poll are not surprising because the public has not felt the effects of any of those reforms passed by Congress yet, Baker says. Until that happens, widespread dissatisfaction and distrust in Congress will continue to rise.

“People today are products of instant gratification,” he says. “ If with the wave of a wand, Congress and President Obama could reduce unemployment, I suppose they would get credit, but that’s not the way things work.”

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