The battered, jobless U.S. economy took a turn for the worse this past week as President Obama prepared to offer another bag of bromides that looked like the failed remedies he has tried before.
As the near-comatose economy spiraled into a full-blown crisis for the country and his precarious presidency, hopeful signs of life were hard to find in the flat-lined data on jobs and growth.
The economy is so bad that even the administration admits things will not get better anytime soon, desperately looking for a lifeline but finding none in a deeply divided Congress that took August off while the economy grew weaker.
A recent White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report says the 9.1 percent jobless rate will likely persist through 2012 when Obama will be up for re-election. And the administration has lowered its economic growth forecasts to a mediocre 1 percent, which may be optimistic. The economy barely grew by 0.8 percent in the first half of the year.
But the unemployment rate is really just a small part of Obama's failing economic report card. In addition to the more than 14 million Americans counted as jobless, 8.8 million more need full-time jobs but are forced to accept part-time work, while 2.6 million discouraged workers aren't counted at all because they've given up looking for a job. All told, more than 25 million Americans can't find full-time jobs.
The debate over whether the economy is entering yet another recession is beside the point. It feels like a recession, and a majority of Americans think we are in a deep recession because of Obama's failed recovery policies.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll reported Tuesday that by better than 2-to-1, "more Americans now say the administration's economic policies are making the economy worse rather than better."
More than six in 10 disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy, with nearly half of them saying they "strongly" disapprove of the job he is doing.
Democrats are unhappy with the way things are going, too. Those who say things are going in the right direction -- Obama's all-purpose excuse in his first two years -- fell from 60 percent in January to 32 percent now. Fewer than three-fourths of Democrats now approve of the job he is doing.
"We're not in a recession yet, but we're right there at the edge," said Mark Zandi, the respected chief economist at Moody's Analytics, adding that the stock market's nosedive "reflects just how precarious a situation we're in."