Donald Lambro

But it wasn't just Obama's budget director who was criticizing his new economic plan. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who is facing a tough election in November, broke with Obama on his $50 billion infrastructure spending binge. And House Democratic insiders say others in the party are opposed, too.

"I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package," Bennet said in a statement. "Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds ... We must make hard choices to significantly reduce the deficit." This from the senator who voted for Obama's initial $800 billion stimulus bill and whose election is now in jeopardy.

There were even deeper problems with Obama's tax credits for businesses to encourage them to hire workers. Business leaders said that even with the tax credit, they couldn't afford to hire more employees until the economy picks up. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is justifiably suspicious about the sticky web of strings that appear to rule in certain businesses but rule out others, including those who did any of their business abroad.

"We will not support an approach where the government picks winners and losers, providing tax credits and incentives to politically favored industries and groups while sticking others with the bill," said Chamber chief lobbyist Bruce Josten.

The 100 percent tax write-off for businesses that purchase new equipment is strongly supported by business but the jobs payoff will not be felt anytime soon, several Democrats said.

"Substantively, there is nothing they could do between now and Election Day that would have any measurable effect on the economy. Nothing," Bill Galston, chief domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House, told The Washington Post.

And that begs the question, why wait until seven weeks before the midterm election to unveil a new set of economic proposals to jump-start an economy that the president admits will take a lot longer to recover than he had expected?

The real answer: Because this isn't a serious, substantive plan. It is a few half-baked ideas thrown together in the last week to give him ammunition in what turned out to be a partisan political attack on the Republicans and House GOP Leader John Boehner -- the first of many in the weeks to come.

He promised to change the political tone in Washington and fix the economy. His defensive campaign speech in recession-weary Ohio proved he has done neither.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.