Donald Lambro

Many hardpressed North Carolina Democrats must be asking if his first $800 billion-plus jobs bill failed to ignite the U.S. economy, why will this latest tax and spend bill, at roughly half the price, be any different? Or is this bill just another taped-together, repainted campaign prop for the 2012 election to give the president some cover?

Obama headed into the weekend before his three-day bus tour began, dogged by a lengthening list of Gallup polls that painfully illustrated why surveys show that 75 percent of Americans say the economy is "getting worse."

Among Gallup's findings:

-- 19 percent of Americans say they are struggling just to afford food and, overall, "fewer Americans had access to basic life necessities in September."

-- Thirty percent of 18-29-year-olds are unemployed or underemployed, forced to to take temp or part-time jobs. Thousands of college graduates say they cannot find any jobs at all.

-- If the plethora of "Where Are The Jobs?" signs among the Occupy Wall Street protesters accurately reflect their anger, these young people are also among the victims of Obama's failed economic policies and his empty promises that unemployment would be below 8 percent by now.

-- The Washington Post reported Monday that recently returning military veterans "have an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent," well above the national 9.1 percent jobless rate.

These and other survey numbers are more than tragic human statistics, they are the sad story of a great nation in a decline, led by an incompetent administration whose ill-fated policies have worsened an economy that should be on a sharp upward trajectory by now.

The network news shows keep downplaying Obama's troubles by reporting his job approval numbers are in "the low to mid-40s." In fact, Gallup's daily polls showed his approval numbers dropping to a low of 38 percent for the first time Friday and again on Saturday, with a high of 54 percent disapproving his presidency.

Throughout the first half of this year as the mediocre Obama economy grew weaker and unemployment rose, much of the news media took comfort in reporting that, while the president's polls were falling, the Republicans' were worse in generic surveys.

But at the end of last month, Gallup asked voters this simple and apropo economic question: "Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party do you think will do a better job of keeping the country prosperous?"

The response: 48 percent answered "the Republicans," 39 percent said "the Democrats," and 13 percent had "no opinion."

Notably, Gallup asked the same question about which party would do a better job of "protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats?" The GOP led that one by an 11 point margin.

Obama's taxpayer-paid bus trip took him into Virginia on Tuesday, a state he won in 2008 but now appears to be the underdog. In a further sign of his weakness, Obama's former Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine, who is running for the Senate, was expected to be noticeably absent on the tour, according to the Associated Press.

A further embarrassment for the president: prominent Democrats in the state urged the White House to readjust his scheduled campaign stops so that Obama would not be visiting battleground districts where local Democrats face tough elections.

Forget for the moment the coming political battle with Republicans, Obama is now struggling just to win back the support of his own party.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.