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Reminding us of the timeless wisdom of the 1992 campaign slogan, “it’s the economy, stupid,” Barack Obama’s poll numbers are tanking. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows the president’s so-called “Bin Laden bounce,” which had elevated his approval rating to 56 percent immediately following the terror master’s elimination, is down to 47 percent, with 49 percent of Americans disapproving of the president. With respect to his economic performance, the numbers are even more ominous. 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the way he’s handling the economy in general, and a staggering two-out-of three dislike his approach to the nation’s deficit. And for the first time in a long time, a Republican presidential candidate is polling in a dead heat with Mr. Obama.
None of this should surprise anyone. Despite relentlessly upbeat predictions by this administration for the past two years, from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s “green shoots” of recovery in March of 2009, to Joe Biden’s “Recovery Summer” a year ago, the economy remains saddled with high unemployment, a moribund housing sector and creeping inflation reflected most sharply by rising food and fuel prices.
None of it is lost on ordinary Americans. A full 89 percent recognize the economy is in bad shape and 57 percent say no recovery has begun. Even more importantly, 66 percent are convinced the United States is “seriously” on the wrong track. Thus, it is no coincidence that Mitt Romney, who announced his presidential ambitions last week with the statement, “Barack Obama has failed America,” and who promised to make economic recovery the centerpiece of his campaign, is the Republican in a statistical tie with the president. Each man garners a 47 percent share of the vote in general, while Romney gets the nod — 49 percent to 46 percent among registered voters.
Despite this reality, the president remains outwardly unconcerned. “Obviously, we’re experiencing some headwinds,” Mr. Obama said during a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But he insisted the country was not headed for a double-dip recession. “I’m not concerned about a double dip recession. I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we’re on is not producing jobs as quickly as I want it to happen,” he added.
Yet once again, the president retreated to the familiar territory that is rapidly becoming his fallback position should the economy show further signs of deterioration: he “inherited a recession,” in an obvious reference to the Bush administration, even as he once again reminded Americans that his administration “created or saved” more than 2 million jobs. “Recovering from that kind of body blow takes time,” Obama declared. “And recovery is going to be uneven.”
Perhaps one could take this president more seriously if it weren’t for his ability to completely contradict himself without the slightest acknowledgement or remorse. “I think it is important though to recognize that if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the US economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession,” said the president in 2009, during a trip to Asia. “One of the trickiest things we’re doing right now, is to on the one hand make sure the recovery is supported and not withdraw a lot of money either with tax increases or big spending…at the same time, making sure that we’re setting up a pathway for long term for deficit reduction. It’s about as hard of a play as there is,” he added.
How sincere was the president then? In the last two years, the administration has engaged in a second round of Quantitative Easing (QE2), an odious combination of “big spending,” as in $600 billion of added liquidity to the monetary system, and a de facto “tax increase” caused by the subsequent weakening of the dollar which has fueled inflation. Even more incredibly, the president submitted a 2012 budget of $3.7 trillion containing $1.4 trillion of deficit spending, which was so out of whack with the reality of “long-term deficit reduction” that the Senate rejected it by a vote of 97-0.
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