Donald Lambro

Last week, BLS released the state by state jobless rates for July which showed that unemployment has risen in 44 of them -- a shocking statistic that the nightly news shows all but ignored.

If you are looking for things to get better under Obama on the job front, forget it. "The unemployment rate will stay above 8 percent for the rest of the year," CBO says.

Have you noticed that when the network news shows report on the economy and jobs, it never mentions Barack Obama in its reports. It is as if his economic policies have nothing to do with unemployment or the economy over the past four years of his administration.

But those policies have everything to do where we are now in the economic life of our country. This isn't the "new normal" the administration's supporters want us to believe. There's nothing remotely normal about it.

In the fourth year of Ronald Reagan's presidency, after one of the severest recessions since the Depression, the economic growth rate was a stunning 8.5 percent in the first quarter and 7.9 percent in the second quarter.

Compare those growth rates to Obama's pathetic record of 2.0 and 1.5 during the same period in his fourth year.

What's wrong with his policies? They're anti-growth, anti-capital investment, anti-business and anti-wealth creation. This is an economy that has uncertainty written all over it.

Businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and the financial sector can't plan for the future, engage in risk-taking and make strategic, long range decisions because they don't know what is coming at them in future years in terms of higher taxes, regulations and, yes, the possibility of a recession.

His battle against extending the 2001-03 Bush tax cuts is a critical obstacle to future growth. Obama and the news media want us to believe the Republicans in Congress are to blame for this policy fight and the economy's weakening performance.

Obama wants to raise the two top income tax rates from 28 percent to 36 percent and from 35 percent to nearly 40 percent, and allow the rest of the middle-to-lower Bush tax rates remain in place.

Those higher rates would hit a large number of small but struggling businesses (who pay taxes as individual filers) at the worst possible time in our economy. They are barely holding on under present tax rates. Higher rates will only worsen their plight and force them to lay off workers or go out of business.

But that's not the only taxes Obama would raise right now in this down economy. He wants to raise the capital gains tax on investors (and retirees who live off their stock dividends and capital gains) at a time when the economy is under-invested and starved for start-up and expansion capital.

Republicans argue that with a crippled economy limping along as it is, it is insane to be raising taxes on any part of the business community. But the Republicans aren't the only ones saying this. Democrats are telling Obama the same thing.

Former President Bill Clinton told CNBC in June that we should "avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now..." Asked if this means continuing all of the Bush tax cuts, even for the top- income brackets, Clinton said, "They will presumably have to put off everything until early next year."

This is what the dividing line in this policy battle is all about. There is no school of economic thought that says you raise taxes in a high unemployment, weak economy teetering on the edge of recession.

But that's what Obama and the Democrats want to do against the advice of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, GOP leaders, most economists and Bill Clinton.

Think about this before you cast your vote in November.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.