Americans harbor a healthy dose of cynicism about the government's 8.3 percent average national unemployment rate, because workers do not live in the world of averages. Sixteen states, including some of the largest, suffer jobless rates of between 9 percent and 13 percent.
"Factoring in discouraged adults (who have stopped looking for work) and others working part time for lack of full-time opportunities, the unemployment rate is about 14.9 percent," says University of Maryland economist Peter Morici. "Adding college graduates in low-skill positions, like counter work at Starbucks, and the unemployment rate is closer to 18 percent."
Soaring gasoline prices have also fueled the public's angst toward the president. The average price for a gallon of regular shot up 5 cents over the weekend to $3.80 -- the highest it's ever been at this time of the year.
In many parts of the country, the price of gas is more than $4, and some forecasters say the national average may climb as high as $4.25 by April.
That cuts deeply into tight consumer budgets, and for many motorists, wipes out the 2 percent payroll tax cut enacted to pump more liquidity and growth into Obama's lackluster economy.
Obama this week reiterated his excuse that there is "no silver bullet" to quickly boost tight oil supplies that would bring down gasoline prices.
Nevertheless, he could have put oil exploration and drilling policies in place at the start of his presidency that would have boosted both oil and gas supplies and could have made us energy independent by now.
Instead, his policies and his rhetoric have been hostile to exploration and drilling, placing moratoriums on offshore oil development and killing the Canadian-U.S. oil pipeline and the thousands of oil jobs along with it.
Instead, he's been pumping millions of tax dollars into alternative sources of fuel that are not economically viable. Obama talked recently about one project to turn algae into fuel. Newt Gingrich told voters at an energy summit in Biloxi, Miss., Monday that the "biggest issue this fall is going to be drilling versus algae."
It is worth noting that on Dec. 31, 2008, as George W. Bush was about to return to private life and Obama was preparing to take office, the average price of a gallon of regular was $1.61.
Now, with polls showing voters are blaming him for the soaring price of gas, Obama conducted a whirlwind round of interviews Monday with eight swing-state TV stations, offering a bevy of excuses but taking no blame for his anti-oil drilling policies.
Obama's presidency is clearly on the skids. He came into office promising to fix our biggest problems: a sick economy, $1.4 trillion deficits and energy dependence on foreign oil. Four years later, they still remain to be fixed.
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