Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- President Obama and his White House staff are making mistakes that continue to worsen an already deflating U.S. economy.

As the stock market plunged below the Dow's 7,000 mark -- a loss of 1,500 points since his inauguration -- Obama casually dismissed the sharp drop in equity values, comparing it to the ups and downs of a poll.

The stock market "is sort of like a tracking poll in politics," he told news reporters. "You know, it bobs up and down day to day. And if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong."

Excuse me? Tracking poll? That's like dismissing a severed hand as a hangnail.

The stock market represents the life savings and investments of millions of workers. More than 50 percent of American households own shares in public companies.

We are talking about people's retirement finances here that they see vanishing before their eyes, and millions of these investors are middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet.

This is a time that called for a little sympathy about what this recession is doing to investors.

"The stock market is the country right now. This is where people's wealth is, this is their pension plans, their 401(k)s and IRAs," CNBC's investment guru Jim Cramer said last week.

But the president's seemingly callous shoot-from-the-hip response may have been the result of the political pressure he is coming under as the economy significantly worsens on his watch. Add to this the growing chorus of critics who are blaming the stock market's plunge on his policies.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that President Obama's policy agenda is a factor in driving down the Dow," economic policy strategist Cesar Conda wrote last week in his Politico blog.

"The reason is simple: The threat of significantly higher tax rates on economic success, more government regulation and intrusion in the free market, and explosive increases in government spending and debt have all combined to reduce economic returns on equity investment," he said.

Cramer, whose views on stocks are closely followed by millions of CNBC viewers, said he wanted "some sign that Obama realizes the market is totally falling apart. His agenda has a big hand in that happening."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

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