Declining manufacturing orders, anemic, almost nonexistent job creation, and an economy that all but stopped breathing in the first half of this year now constitute a full-blown national crisis at the midway point in Barack Obama's troubled presidency.
In the past two weeks the administration has been hit by a barrage of negative economic data, underscoring a recent nationwide Gallup poll that found 78 percent of Americans think we are already in another recession.
The Commerce Department reported last week that the economy barely grew at a snail's-pace rate of 1.3 percent between April and June, and practically ground to a halt in the first three months of this year, increasing only 0.4 percent. Or, as The Washington Post put it, the economy "essentially stalled" in the first half of this year.
The Institute of Supply Management reports that its manufacturing index fell to 50.6, barely at the 50-point mark indicating growth -- the second decline in three months. The index of the economy's service sector shows that it grew by its weakest pace in 17 months. And the government reported that consumers cut their spending in June for the first time in two years, a stunning sign they have lost confidence that the economy will improve anytime soon.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that "instead of new jobs and renewed economic growth, we've watched as the jobless rate rose in 28 states last month, while ticking up to 9.2 percent."
The Obama economy added only 25,000 and 18,000 jobs in May and June respectively, and Friday's employment report for July was expected to be similarly disappointing. No one, neither the middle class nor the wealthy, is escaping the economy's rapid downfall, including Wall Street. The stock market's plunge since last week has wiped out more than $2 trillion in retirement and investment savings.
The bleak economic report cards bombarding the White House are finally reaching critical mass, and the freshman senator who rose to the presidency on his oratorical skills and little else is losing his support. His job approval score fell to 40 percent late last month, the lowest of his presidency, Gallup said.