Donald Lambro

America is in a steep decline because of the Obama administration's anti-business policies that have blocked economic growth.
     

From the beginning of his presidency, Obama's retro-New Deal policies were all about expanding federal spending, programs and taxes at the expense of the private sector and the labor force, both of which have shrunk under his remedial management.
    

The result, as we head into the Labor Day weekend, is a shrinking labor force, stalled economic growth, deepening debt, and a White House that is out of substantive ideas about how to pull our country out of its economic nosedive.
    

The Commerce Department reported last week that the economy was growing at a feeble 1 percent in the second quarter and has all but stopped growing. This week, The Conference Board research group said its Consumer Confidence Index dropped in August to its lowest level since April 2009, falling 15 points to 44.5.
    

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the percentage of younger workers with a job declined to 48.8 percent in July, the lowest rate for that month since the BLS has been collecting such data.
    

Meanwhile, forecasters expect the Labor Department's report this Friday will show only 67,000 jobs were created in August, signaling a trend that indicates unemployment will remain high throughout Obama's presidency.
    

Americans are justifiably pessimistic about the economy, fearing that it's not going to get better anytime soon and, indeed, will likely get worse in the months ahead as the White House vainly struggles to patch together a new jobs agenda in order to rescue a president whose job approval polls have sunk to new lows.
    

Obama says he will soon offer the country a new plan to turn the economy around. But the Washington Post reported Tuesday that "behind the scenes Obama and top aides had yet to reach agreement on the major tenets of that plan, and it remained unclear whether the president was looking for narrower ideas with a realistic chance of passing the Republican-led House or more sweeping stimulus proposals that would excite his liberal base and draw contrasts with the GOP."
    

In other words, accept some GOP ideas that will win the support of the Republicans or offer a campaign-driven plan that will appeal to his party's disenchanted left but stands little or no chance of passing a divided Congress. Either way, this is a confused administration that has not just lost its way -- it doesn't have a compass.
    

American voters intuitively sense this. The Gallup Poll reported Tuesday that only 38 percent of the voters surveyed approve of the job Obama is doing. A 55 percent majority now disapprove of his presidency.
    

Let's be very clear who is to blame for this mess. It isn't President George W. Bush. It isn't ATM machines taking away bank teller jobs, as Obama suggested earlier this summer, along with a rash of other excuses. It isn't Wall Street, where stocks have been pounded over the course of the past three years. It's Obama's policies that have made the economy weaker, smaller and more vulnerable to years of decline.
    

"Jobs creation remains weak, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending, large federal deficits, price raising health care mandates, and tighter but ineffective business regulations do not address, and indeed exacerbate, the permanent structural problems holding back dynamic growth and jobs creation," writes University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici. "Until this policy direction is altered, the economy will continue to grow slowly or slip into recession, unemployment will rise, living standards will fall, and American standing in the global economy will decline," Morici says.
    

What we're seeing, he adds, is "An American policy of decline by design."
    

Obama came into office full of promises, with a bag packed with dubious remedies that were based on the liberal notion we could just spend and tax ourselves into prosperity. But after nearly three years of promises, Obama has failed to deliver and has lost his credibility. A Pew Research Center poll reports that nearly half of all Americans surveyed do not believe he is a strong leader, while 50 percent do not think he can get things done.
    

That inability to move an agenda was driven home this past week when it was reported that the three trade export deals negotiated by Bush that Obama has been urging Congress to pass were never officially sent to Capitol Hill. Instead, he's been on the campaign trail, blaming the Republicans for holding up the trade agreements, when there is strong GOP support for all three.
    

Since the failure of his $800 billion jobs stimulus plan, Obama has been hoping that either the economy would heal itself, or that the Federal Reserve would come to his rescue. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke put that notion to rest last week at a conference of central bankers and economists at Jackson Hole, Wyo.

"Most of the economic policies that support robust economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the central bank," he said. In other words, that job rests with Congress, where GOP leaders have prepared a sweeping plan to cut tax rates, reduce job-killing regulations, and unleash an aggressive trade policy to "sell American goods and services around the world."
    

It's hard to see their plan passing the Democrat-run Senate in this election cycle. But if not, that will give Republicans the chance to ask the voters, who's really playing politics with the economy?


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.