Donald Lambro

"Obama's ratings on the economy are significantly worse than all three prior successful presidential incumbents at this same point in their first term," Gallup reported Thursday.

"His 36 percent approval rating on the economy is well below George W. Bush's rating in August 2004 (46 percent), Bill Clinton's in August 1996 (54 percent), and Ronald Reagan's in July 1984 (50 percent), Gallup said.

It's worth noting that in Reagan's case, the 1984 election was all about Reagan's tax-cut-driven recovery versus tax hikes proposed by Democratic nominee Walter Mondale. Reagan won in a landslide, carrying 49 states.

In many ways, the central issue in 1984 was the same one we are fighting over today. Tax cuts to get the U.S. economy back on its feet, stimulate capital investment, create more jobs, and produce more revenue to boot.

Romney and Ryan are embracing lower taxes, just as Kennedy, Reagan and, eventually, even Bill Clinton did, to grow the economy, while Obama and the Democrats are running on major tax increases to grow the government and boost federal spending.

Obama and his party say lowering taxes will worsen the deficit, when the chief culprit driving Obama's deficits -- besides his spending binges -- is slowing (1.5 percent) economic growth and an 8.3 percent jobless rate. People who don't have jobs don't pay income taxes.

Meantime, another issue is emerging in the campaign that is hurting Obama's quest for a second term, and that is his directive to rewrite the welfare reform law of 1996.

That directive will grant waivers to the states to override the welfare reform law, according to a study written by two top analysts at the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley.

"The new welfare dictate issued by the Obama administration clearly guts the law...and seeks to impose its own policy choices -- a pattern that has become all too common in this administration," they wrote.

In a nut shell, Obama's directive says the "traditional TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) work requirements can be waived or overridden by a legal device called the section 1115 waiver authority," they said.

But the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said in a separate study of that section that "Effectively, there are no TANF waivers."

The Romney campaign has been hitting the airwaves with an ad lambasting the administration for its back door attempt to undermine the welfare reforms, allowing welfare recipients to collect their checks without making any effort to get off welfare and on the employment rolls.

The Obama campaign has counterattacked, charging the ad is a lie and that Romney sought the same kind of waiver authority as governor.

But Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, while criticizing the Romney ad, said "There is something fishy about the administration's process on this memorandum." He gave Obama "a solid three Pinocchios" for its shaky waiver claim against Romney, saying "there is little evidence that is the case.

Increasingly, as Obama's disapproval numbers worsen, his campaign has been making things up. A feeling of desperation and hysteria have begun to creep into their bipolar rhetoric, with Vice President Biden warning voters (guess who?) that Romney will "put y'all back in chains."

Historically, Gallup says, presidents who won a second term had near-50 percent job approval ratings. But with Obama's stuck in the mid-to-low 40s, it looks like the end is near.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.