Donald Lambro

Little wonder that a USA Today/Gallup Poll found earlier this month that 57 percent of the American people surveyed believe that Obama's stimulus package has had no impact on the economy or has made things worse. Sixty percent doubt it would have much, if any, effect in the years to come.

Obama's broader anti-capitalism, anti-investment policies -- i.e., higher tax rates and clamping down on trade and increased energy production -- will only make things worse, economists say.

"In one of its most intrusive expansions, Washington has become the nation's allocator of capital, setting detailed requirements and accounting rules in ways that channel credit to favored states, industries and uses. Small businesses and consumers are bearing the brunt of this credit market shift," writes Wall Street economist David Malpass in this week's issue of Forbes magazine.

"A good jobs and investment environment depends on a strong and stable currency, restrained federal spending, less harmful legislation, dependable contract law, limits on taxation and countercyclical capital regulation," Malpass says.

"On most points the Bush administration went the other way: It spent heavily and encouraged market volatility," he continues. "Instead of reversing these mistakes, the Obama administration has maintained most Bush policies, while adding tax risks and even more spending."

From the Federal Reserve Board to Wall Street, there is the growing expectation that the recovery, when it comes, will be slow and anemic.

Malpass, too, sees "a weak recovery," as a result of a weak dollar and capital flight to seek better returns abroad, "even as we systematically increase our own cost of capital with tax increases, volatility and the erosion of contract law."

Democrats are also calling on the administration to change its policy on trade to open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services as a key part of its recovery policies.

"The current economic downturn and the need to create jobs make reflexive anti-trade sentiments more foolhardy than ever," writes global economic analyst Edward Gresser at the Democratic Leadership Council Web site. "Recent export growth has been one of the few bright spots amid the deluge of bad news from businesses across the spectrum, and efforts to give innovative new American businesses access to foreign markets should be at the top of any comprehensive agenda to pull the nation out of recession."

Gresser's proposals for a new trade agenda: The administration needs to push stalled free-trade agreements with Panama, Korea and Colombia; cut import tariffs; and reopen negotiations with our major trading partners on agricultural exports.

Meantime, the bleak numbers coming out of the White House mean that the economy is in for a slow, mediocre recovery that suggests Democratic losses in next year's midterm elections.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.