Austin Communications
Political Consulting Media Affairs Crisis Management Curson & Austin Advertising Store Contact

ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Voters Are Thumbs Down on Obama Economy

August 13, 2010

The economy continues to struggle amid increasing pressure on the unemployment front, and with only two more unemployment reports due-out before the November mid-term elections, things don’t look good for Democrats.

There’s little chance that the employment picture will improve before the elections, and many voters are now focusing on the failure of President Barrack Obama’s so-called economic stimulus package, and rightfully asking why things aren’t getting better.

President Obama projected that the original $862 billion stimulus package (passed in February of 2009) would keep unemployment at bay. He predicted unemployment to top off somewhere around 8 percent, and move steadily downward from that point throughout 2010.

This, of course, has badly missed the mark, as the U.S. Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate to be 9.5 percent last week for the month of July.

The economic stimulus package, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, was President Obama’s top legislative priority when he took office in January, 2009. The President actively pushed the plan before actually being sworn into office.

The President-elect initially said his goal was to “not only create jobs in the short-term, but to spur economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term.” The bill targeted three areas of the economy, help for the middle class, infrastructure construction, and direct aid to states.

The measure passed the House of Representatives without a single Republican vote, and all but eleven House Democrats voted for the stimulus. In the Senate, all Democrats voted for the bill, and three Republicans, including Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, who in now a Democrat.

We are now in the second full year of the stimulus package, and the country overwhelmingly views the results as a failure. The country has lost upwards of 3 million jobs since President Obama has taken office, and the deficit has soared beyond anyone’s imagination, primarily because of the massive spending contained in the stimulus package.

It’s been difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the actual numbers of jobs created directly from the stimulus, and many economists have mocked the idea that millions of jobs were “saved” by passage of the stimulus.

The Obama administration however, continues to say that over 3 million jobs have been created “or saved” since the bill’s passage. Yet, even at that rate, that would mean it cost $287,000 for every job it saved or created, not a good return on the investment, most economists argue.

Employment gains are not being made in the private sector, which is where the economic engine of the country has always existed. Small business is also bracing for more bad news early next year when the Bush tax cuts expire on December 31st.

The latest polls show the American people have lost confidence in President Obama’s handling of the economy, with a latest Washington Post-ABC News survey saying 54 percent of the country disapproves of the President’s economic course.

This is causing heartburn on Capitol Hill where Republicans are expecting to make major gains, if not take outright control, in the House and Senate, after the November mid-term elections.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) summed up his party’s position to stimulus spending, “Where do the bailouts end? Are we going to bail out states next year and the year after that, too? At some point we’ve got to say, enough is enough.”

Voters will have an answer for that one on November 2nd.