WASHINGTON -- Recent town-hall uproars weren't just about health care. They were also eruptions of concern that the government is taking on too much at once.
That suggests trouble for the president and his party, and fears of losses in next year's midterm election are likely to shape the Democrats' fall agenda.
At August's town-hall meetings, voters often started with complaints about health care, only to shift to frustrations about all the other things President Barack Obama and the Democrats have done or tried to do since January. The $787 billion economic-stimulus package, the government-led rescue of General Motors Corp. and climate-change legislation all came in for criticism.
"A lot of the anxiety we face here has less to do with health care and everything to do with the overall state of the economy and government," said Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat.
"I have seen a level of dissatisfaction and even anger that I haven't experienced in the years that I've been a member of Congress," Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, told an audience at a health-care meeting in Kansas City on Monday.
Although the election is still far off, political forecasters predict that Democrats could run into trouble in the 2010 midterm vote.
"What we're seeing now, both in terms of numbers and the feel out there, this is how big waves feel early on," said Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report.