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President Obama is running out of time on the economy

at 07:00 AM ET, 08/03/2012

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its July jobs report this morning — an assessment that didn’t exactly show considerable growth in the economy over the past month. And from a political perspective, that means one thing: President Obama is running out of time.


U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House with Timothy F. Geithner, U.S. treasury secretary, center, and Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Why?

Because polling — both in this campaign and in past races — suggests that public perception on major issues (economy, Iraq, etc.) cements several months in advance of the actual vote, barring some sort of cataclysmic event.

The consistency of Obama’s numbers on the economy is remarkable. Not since 2009 has a majority of Americans approved of how Obama is handling the economy in Washington Post-ABC News polling Couple that fact with the sustained pessimism about the direction of the country and faltering economic confidence ratings, and you get a very dangerous political brew for Obama — particularly this close to an election (95 days!).

What all of the data cited above mean is that, while there will be three more monthly jobs reports prior to voters voting, it may not ultimately matter what they say, unless of course they show massive gains (or losses).

Timing matters too — and could also hurt Obama.

Today’s report is the last one before the two parties gather for their national conventions later this month and in early September.

Today’s middling report may fuel Republican optimism and enthusiasm about the election — and likely have the exact opposite effect on Democrats.

The August jobs report is due out Sept. 7, one day after the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. A bad report could go a long way toward snuffing out any bump the president was hoping to enjoy post-convention. The September jobs report will come out on Oct. 5, two days after the first presidential debate and six days before the only vice presidential debate. The October report will be released Nov. 2, just four days before the election.

Viewed that way, the jobs reports could be a double whammy for Obama. Not only is he unlikely to get any political benefit from them unless the reports begin to show signs of real progress next mo nth, but they could also serve as major momentum-crushers for other major moments in the campaign to come.

In short: Things need to change quickly for Obama when it comes to the jobs numbers. If they don’t, he will almost certainly face an electorate this fall — no matter what happens in October — that believes the economy is still sputtering and his plans to fix it haven’t worked.

Solyndra e-mails show Rahm involvement: E-mails released as part of House Republicans’ Solyndra probe indicate that then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wanted Obama involved in the solar energy project.

“POTUS involvement was Rahm’s idea,” writes the deputy director of special projects.

Emanuel’s involvement isn’t news; his name appeared in emails released in 2011. But the new messages shed a little more light on the scandal. When asked about Solyndra last September, Emanuel said he didn’t “remember that or know about it.”

Another e-mail exchange shows the frustration in Obama’s communications team, including Stephanie Cutter saying, “Ugh.”

Reid releases new statement: Responding to criticism of his tax return accusations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reiterated Thursday night that “an extremely credible source” told him that Mitt Romney had not paid taxes for 10 years.

Echoing Romney’s “put up or shut up” challenge, Reid said the candidate had “shut up” when it came to his tax returns, and “it’s his obligation to put up and release several years’ worth of tax returns.”

He added, “It’s clear Romney is hiding something, and the American people deserve to know what it is. ”

Tennessee House members win primaries: A pair of GOP freshmen easily survived primaries Thursday in Tennessee.

Reps. Diane Black and Chuck Fleischmann both withstood significant challenges — Black against former congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik and Fleischmann in a crowded field that included the son of the man he succeeded, former congressman Zach Wamp.

Fleischmann took less than 40 percent of the vote, but Weston Wamp and another Republican split the rest of the vote, handing Fleischmann the nomination. Black took more than two-thirds of the vote in a one-on-one race with Zelenik.

In the only race on the national radar for the fall, Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart was uncontested for the nomination to face freshman Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R). DesJarlais notably escaped what could have been a tough primary in a redrawn district, and he is not considered a top Democratic target.

Fixbits:

Obama’s campaign is releasing an interactive map showing how much middle-class families would have to pay to offset Romney’s tax cuts for the wealthy, according to a recent nonpartisan report.

The Republican National Committee is giving people a chance to send Obama not-so-well-wishing birthday cards.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is up with another ad playing up a Democratic mayor’s support.

Missouri Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (R) has poured another $100,000 of her own money into her campaign, bringing her self-funding total to more than $800,000. Sarah Palin is stumping for Steelman today.

Palin is backing former state House speaker Kirk Adams (R) in an open congressional race in Arizona.

A new Democratic poll shows Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) tied with Democrat Scott Peters. A recent Peters poll also showed a tie ballgame.

Must-reads:

Obama and same-sex marriage: Will his stance cost him the African-American vote?” — Lisa Miller, Washington Post

Palin hopes to extend winning streak with Missouri endorsement” — Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Kane, Washington Post

Obama’s problems in the South” — Jonathan Martin, Politico

Rachel Weiner and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

 
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