Donald Lambro

Barack Obama simply refuses to take responsibility for a weak, jobless economy that's persisted longer than it should have because of his impotent policies over the past four years.

With his latest big spending stimulus plan rejected by Congress, Obama is back on the campaign trail with the same politically thread- bare appeal he's used throughout his presidency: We can't return to the policies of the past "that got us into this mess in the first place."

That's the worn out line he was trying out Thursday in yet another economic "reframing" address in Cleveland. It was his response to Mitt Romney's stepped up assault on a failed four year record that economists say has given us the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.

With the economy sharply slowing down to a mediocre 1.9 percent growth rate, new job creation falling perilously in April and May, and wages virtually flat for three months, Obama's bid for a second term is in deep trouble.

Romney is focusing almost entirely on the economy and jobs and, increasingly, Obama has been unable to come up with an effective reply to the former governor's attacks.

"The president's team indicated that if we passed their stimulus of $787 billion, borrowed, that they'd hold unemployment below 8 percent.We've gone 40 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent," Romney said Wednesday in a talk before the Business Roundtable, an influential trade group here in Washington.

"If you look at his record over the last three and a half years, you will conclude, as I have, that it is the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs series of policies in modern American history," Romney added.

Democrats on Capitol Hill, fearing a weakened Obama could drag down some their most endangered candidates, want him to change his message: From blaming George W. Bush to laying out a strategy to get the U.S. economy up and running again at full strength.

But Obama is sticking to his repeated warning that his Republican rival's low tax and reduced spending policies are no different than Bush's policies which he blames for all of the country's present economic woes.

Let's examine that argument for a moment, because it doesn't stand up to even cursory scrutiny.

Obama's central policy offensive over the course of his term has been to kill the Bush tax cuts, including those on upper income people, small businesses, investors, capital gains and dividends.

These policies, he says, are part of the previous administration's mess that he claims he has been trying to clean up.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.