Donald Lambro

All the talk here is about the slowing economy, the threat of a continuing recession, the government's growing debts, and the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare.

If anyone still believes things can't get much worse, brace yourself. They can and they will.

The Gallup Poll reported last week that nearly 80 percent of Americans it polled between June 9-12 were "dissatisfied with the nation's direction." Not surprisingly, their deepening dissatisfaction mirrors a 10-point plunge in Gallup's economic confidence index.

Don't look to the White House and President Obama for a plan to get our country out of this mess. In the past few months, many of his top economic advisers have left their jobs and returned to the safety of their tenured teaching posts in academia.

Free from the tightly controlled political constraints of the West Wing, Lawrence Summers, who headed the president's National Economic Council, urged his former boss last week to raise the payroll tax cut on all workers from 2 percent to 3 percent and expand it to include each employer's matching tax share.

In an analysis for Reuters last week titled "The Jobs Crisis," a newly critical Summers said: "The fraction of the population working remains almost exactly at its recession trough, and recent reports suggest that growth is slowing."

"Beyond the lack of jobs and incomes, an economy producing below its potential for a prolonged interval sacrifices its future. To an extent that once would have been unimaginable, new college graduates are this month moving back in with their parents because they have no job or means of support. ... And reduced incomes and tax collections at present and in the future are the most important cause of unacceptable budget deficits at present and in the future."

Obama has no full-blown economic growth plan in the works to get the economy moving again, beyond hoping it will turn around on its own, without any new stimulus that Summers says is needed to pull the country out of its renewed slump.

In the meantime, with the U.S. Treasury descending deeper into debt -- a whopping $1.6 trillion in this fiscal year alone -- the administration has just six weeks to strike a deal with Congress to cut more than $2 trillion in spending over the next 10 years.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.