Today's jobs report is further evidence that our economy is stalled and one shock away from tipping into another recession.
However bleak the news, it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the presidential race. The June report did that reset already by weakening a central pillar of Obama’s candidacy. Turns out, things are not really getting better, and President Obama will have to figure out how to win with a stagnant economy. Right now, Obama’s message has narrowed to “It would be a whole lot worse under Romney.” This is not exactly the most motivational of slogans, but it could be enough against Mitt Romney, who has yet to prove he has enough steam to even back into the presidency.
But let's broaden the aperture beyond the presidential campaign for a moment and take a look at what these numbers mean for our country. Our economy isn't the only thing stalled; so are all possible mechanisms of possible relief, save the Fed, whose remedies seem exhausted. Congressional Republicans have no political incentive to help the economy now, and they have proved over and over that the higher purpose of helping the country does not motivate them. Democrats, led by the president, have refused to turn the election into a meaningful referendum on a comprehensive economic agenda of more stimulus, followed by a grand bargain on debt reduction.
Meanwhile, the nation flounders and too many people suffer. And we are stuck here until at least next January. Maybe we should have the election next week, but what would that really decide?