The Obama White House got some bad news yesterday. (And I don’t just mean that the president probably won’t get to run against Herman Cain.) The economy — his economy — isn’t going to get much better anytime soon. The Post reports:
The Federal Reserve sharply downgraded its projections for the U.S. economy Wednesday, warning that weak growth and high unemployment will be the norm for years. The Fed expects that the unemployment rate will be around 8.6 percent at the end of next year, down only slightly from 9.1 percent today, and will still be between 6.8 percent and 7.7 percent in late 2014. In their June forecast, Fed officials said joblessness would come down faster, to around 8 percent by the end of 2012, when the next presidential election will take place.
That’s as bleak an economic forecast as many can recall. And for millions and millions of Americans, the prospect of long-term un-employment and underemployment hangs over their heads.
Obama realistically has two means of getting reelected. First, he could preside over an economic recovery. Or second, the Republicans could nominate someone entirely unacceptable to most Americans. The former, according to the Fed, doesn’t look like it is happening. The latter might still occur, but it does seem that the primary vetting process is working as it should (i.e., weak and unfit candidates get weeded out).
This, in part, is why Obama’s effort to whip up the country against congressional opposition to his job bill has been a flop. Both average people and economic gurus understand how trivial and irrelevant would be yet another stimulus. As the Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler has demonstrated, the administration’s job-creation claims are preposterous. (“In fact, of the 30 estimates we could find, only nine even crossed the million-job threshold over a two-year period.”) Voters understand this. The smoke-and-mirrors jobs plan, the bus tour, and the government-by-executive order are seen for what they are — political gimmickry to divert attention from the president’s appalling economic record. If the president is annoyed with the Congress and public, they in turn have soured on him.
Not surprisingly, the left has settled into a funk. Right Turn guest blogger Matt Continetti sums up:
What happened to the American left’s utopianism, its sense of adventure, its fearless derring-do? Today’s liberals say conservatives are radicals who want to overturn the American political tradition (as liberals understand it). What remains of the liberal confidence in progress seems to be restricted to the culture, where Americans continue to perform occasional experiments of living. But even the cultural left seems withered, exhausted, ready to go to that big Oneida community in the sky. So what’s a Rousseau to do? Ruminate on his glory days, and pretend that Occupy Wall Street is something more than it is. . . .
The wistful left reaches back farther when it mimics the class politics of the 1930s. The “99 percent” versus the “1 percent,” Warren Buffett’s secretary versus Warren Buffett, Obama’s attacks on nameless “millionaires and billionaires” are echoes of the rhetoric of Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Franklin Roosevelt. What is puzzling is that the strategy of division and resentment has not had a good track record. To be sure, it worked for FDR. But Roosevelt had 25 percent unemployment, a minuscule federal government, and a sunny disposition. Since LBJ, the spokesmen for American liberalism have been dour and passive and condescending. Their populism has lacked bite because it is a pose.
You then can understand why Obama calls us “soft” and pouts that we’ve lost our ambition. As the economy has sagged, so has the confidence of the left and the sense of, well, hope and change that carried the ill-prepared president into the Oval Office.
So we are back to the dilemma for the White House: What’s the justification for giving Obama four more years? Ya got me.