Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The economy is tanking. Economists say it has slowed to a near comatose 1.5 percent growth rate, unemployment claims were at a nine-month high and jobs are scarce, yet President Obama is focusing on corporate campaign donations.

While the economy is the clear overriding issue in the midterm elections, threatening to topple Democrats from power in Congress, Obama was devoting his weekly radio address last Saturday to an issue far from the real concerns of workers, families and employers struggling to survive.

If anyone is looking for signs Obama is completely disconnected from the failing economy, his radio address blaming Republicans for blocking his legislation to place restrictions on corporate campaign donations delivered that in spades.

With polls showing Obama's job approval rating slipping to 43 percent last week because of the economy, Democratic strategists grumble privately that the White House has a "tin ear." Republicans said Obama's focus on campaign politics instead of policies to get the economy growing again showed how much he wanted to change the subject in this year's elections.

"Americans want us to focus on jobs, but by focusing on an election bill, Democrats are sending a clear message to the American people that their jobs aren't as important as the jobs of embattled Democrat politicians," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in response to Obama's remarks.

But the Obama administration remained in deep denial about the declining health of the U.S. economy, insisting that it was "moving in the right direction," dubbing it the "Recovery Summer" and declaring that economic growth was "growing at a good clip."

A few weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden predicted the creation of between 250,000 to 500,000 jobs was just around the corner.

But as the summer draws to a close, and with the elections a little more than two months away, those jobs are nowhere to be seen. If anything, the economy's health was worsening, and this administration didn't seem to have a viable plan to pull the country out of its economic decline.

Among recent developments:

-- Last week the government reported that more American workers had filed for jobless benefits than at anytime since last November. Unemployment-benefit claims rose by 12,000 to 500,000 for the third straight weekly increase -- the first time claims had hit the half-million mark in nine months.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.