WASHINGTON - The government says the economy is weakening yet again and unemployment claims are rising, but President Obama is going about business as usual.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits jumped by 10,000 last week to nearly 400,000.
And the Commerce Department said the economy grew at a snail's pace 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year -- slower than the government's earlier estimate.
Despite all those glowing, exaggerated stories on the network nightly news shows that the Obama economy was taking off, Commerce officials discovered a grimmer and more negative reality in their latest numbers. Consumers were spending less than was once thought, the U.S. trade deficit shot up, and businesses aren't restocking as much because of unsold inventories.
With Election Day a little more than five months away, the Gallup Poll continues to find the weakening Obama economy and high unemployment levels remain far and away the overriding issue for most Americans. No other issue comes close.
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll confirms that finding, with more than half of the voters calling the economy and jobs the "single most important issue" before the country.
But Obama continues to campaign merrily about the country as if this 800 pound gorilla of an issue didn't exist. He doesn't talk about it. He doesn't complain about it. He doesn't bemoan it. He isn't seen doing anything about it, except to blame the previous administration.
The Democratic leadership up on Capitol Hill, which controls the U.S. Senate, is similarly mute on the issue of jobs and the economy, praying things will get better on their own before November.
It is going to take more than prayer to get this economy up and running again, it's going to take aggressive, pro-job, pro-investment policies. But the so-called "party of the working class" hasn't a clue about what it takes to create economic growth and spur risk-taking private investment.
As for Obama, it isn't as if he's been busy doing more important work. There he was this week handing out gold medals to nearly a dozen of his biggest supporters, while insulting Poland with a stupid remark about "Polish death camps," when they were Nazi death camps.
On other days he is bashing Republican Mitt Romney for investing in companies to help get new businesses off the ground, despite Romney's high job creation success rate.
But even Obama, as much as he avoids the harsh daily truth of his feeble economy, can't escape the grim reality of the unemployment rates across the country -- from California (10.9 percent) to Rhode Island (11.2 percent).