Donald Lambro

The bleak economic forecast facing Democrats as they head into the final four weeks of the midterm elections is that the so-called recovery has come to a halt.

The Obama administration has no new initiatives to fuel economic growth in the foreseeable future, and Democrats left town last week with the economy adrift, facing a lethal barrage of job-killing tax increases at the end of this year. The Commerce Department will announce the September jobs numbers Friday, and most analysts are forecasting between 75,000 to 77,000 net new jobs, barely up from an anemic 67,000 in August.

But University of Maryland economist Peter Morici says when core private sector job growth is subtracted from federally subsidized health care and temp jobs, the real net private jobs figure "is likely to come in at about 35,000 for September."

"Core private sector jobs growth tracks tax-paying jobs and is lower than a snake's belly, as the threat of higher taxes, regulation and health care costs have just about exterminated entrepreneurial instincts and the appetite for risk among businesses of any size," he writes in his latest forecast.

Consumer spending has stalled, personal incomes barely rose in August by a feeble 0.2 percent when adjusted for inflation, the weak housing market remains at depressed levels, and businesses are sitting on cash, as are workers and families, fearing another long economic slowdown to come.

Increasingly, more of Obama's 2008 supporters are forecasting a long slowdown, too.

In his new book, "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future," former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes that "indications are that the so-called recovery will be anemic. A large percentage of Americans will remain jobless, or their wages will drop. American consumers will not be able to spend enough to keep the recovery going."

Reich's darkening doubts about the economy were echoed last week by a string of gloomy forecasts from the Federal Reserve and other economic analysts that additional actions may be needed to breathe some life into the economy. William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a speech last week that "further action is likely to be warranted unless the economic outlook evolves in a way that makes me more confident that we will see better outcomes for both employment and inflation before too long."

And in a speech in Rome, Charles Evans, head of the Chicago Fed, said "the size of the unemployment gap ... suggests that it would be desirable to increase monetary policy accommodation to boost aggregate demand."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.