WASHINGTON -- If you want to know what Middle America thinks about President Obama's economic policies, go to Ohio where things are about as bad as anywhere else in the country.
Obama carried Ohio by nearly 51.4 percent of the vote largely on his pledge to pull the state's long-suffering economy out of its recession. But in the past five months, the nation's unemployment rate has climbed toward 10 percent, and Ohio's was approaching 11 percent. And the most recent Quinnipiac poll now shows Ohioans disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy by 48 percent to 46 percent. The sharp decline in Obama's scores stunned the White House, which quickly sent Vice President Biden into the state to urge patience -- saying it was going to take more time, maybe until the end of next year for Obama's painfully slow, trickle-down spending stimulus to turn things around.
But clearly, Obama's scores on the economy, which were down from a 57 percent approval rating in May, have precipitously eroded in Ohio.
Significantly, his overall job-approval scores between June 26 and July 7 have fallen sharply in Ohio to the point where only 49 percent of voters approve and 44 percent disapprove.
"These numbers indicate that for the first time voters have decided that President Obama bears some responsibility for their problems," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
But the numbers reflect something deeper: growing doubts among the electorate about Obama's big-spending economic agenda. Voters bought into it in November, but now they're beginning to question how spending the nation more deeply into debt and raising taxes on a weakened or even recovering economy can create more jobs.
Americans remain intuitively distrustful of government and its promises, and they harbor doubts about the draconian level of taxes that Obama and the Democrats want to inflict on the economy at large -- and small businesses in particular -- to pay for a massive-spending agenda they intend to enact in the middle of a severe, job-killing recession.
The Democratic-run House Ways and Means Committee was putting the finishing touches on an income-tax surcharge of up to 3 percent on incomes over $250,000 that will push the top tax rate to well over 40 percent -- up from 35 percent today.
When you add Medicare payroll taxes and state income taxes to the mix, the top income-tax rate would be more than 45 percent if House Democrats have their way.