Bob Franken

Lousy Economy and Dems


^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@<^ LOUSY ECONOMY THREATENS DEMOCRATS By BOB FRANKEN@= ^C.2010 Hearst Newspapers@= WASHINGTON-The more things change, the more they stay the same." How many times have we heard that one? But when we consider the country's financial plight, that's a cliche that is right on the money, literally, So was James "Ragin' Cajun" Carville back in 1992 when he posted the sign in the Bill Clinton for President campaign headquarters that read: "It's the Economy, Stupid." When the two of us talked the other day, strategist-commentator Carville showed that 18 years later he hadn't lost a quip: "More than ever, it's the economy, stupid." The polls certainly bear him out. . . .ALL of them. Gallup was typical, reporting Wednesday that more than 62 percent of respondents listed economic problems as "extremely important," ahead of anything else. That's why President Obama, in his Iraq mission-whatever speech, pivoted to the financial bad news and told his television audience: "Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work." Obviously it's urgent for his fellow Democrats, many of whom are trying to keep their jobs after the Nov. 2 congressional elections. The economy is like a raw wound that just won't adequately heal. Unemployment is chronic. Whatever the precise number in any given report, it translates to about one in ten people out of work. Those who do the hiring are not hiring. As a result, they become part of the self-generating downdraft, the ill wind sweeping over nearly every indicator. The National Association of Realtors reports that existing home sales dropped an astounding 27 per cent from the end of June through July. That's the biggest one month drop since they began keeping records in 1999—and the Association's Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts that "a soft sales pace likely will continue for several months." And car sales were just as dismal. Autodata Corp.measured the worst August in 28 years. Total economic growth? Estimates of the already paltry uptick from the last quarter have been revised downward by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The yo-yo stock market spends much of its time in the "sleeper" position. (For those who are not yo-yo aficionados, the "sleeper" position is at the bottom of the string where it just spins.) Even the country's birth rate is the lowest in a century and, sure enough, the National Center for Health Statistics attributes that to worries about affording a kid.

Is it any wonder that the latest CBS News poll shows that four out of five who answered believe the economy is in bad shape. Three out of four say they expect the doldrums will continue two years or more. If they’re right, that would take us not only past this election, but well into the next one, the presidential race in 2012.

The latest Rasmussen poll shows that 48 per cent of those who replied blamed President Obama. Rasmussen calls that “potential bad news for Democratic candidates this fall.”

Gallup’s poll about the parties and Congress certainly drives the point home. Fifty-one percent of those who took part said they preferred Republican congressional candidates, compared to 41 percent who said they preferred Democrats. This is the largest Republican margin on this question since 1942 when Gallup began taking this so-called “generic” survey. Two months ago, the Democrats were on top.

Gallup also shows a Republican lead, 49 percent to 38 percent, on the all important question of who can best deal with the economy. Democrats have a long tradition of dominating that one.

Republicans are pouncing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell chimed in: “Instead of growing jobs as promised, Washington Democrats have grown the size of the national debt, the federal government and the unemployment rate.”

The never-say-die Democratic House campaign leader, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., steadfastly insists that he is confident the D’s are not really toast because they “have been preparing from day one for what we knew would be a very tough campaign season.”

After nearly two years, the Democrats’ continued attempts to hang blame on the previous administration falls right off the ghost of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Perhaps their biggest problem involves the reality check from the president’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who admits: “There’s only so much that can be done.”

Quoth the Ragin’ Cajun: “No wonder everyone is kind of mad.”

^–@< (E-mail: bob(at); on the Web:www.bobfranken.tv0

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