Donald Lambro
Mitt Romney will come out with both guns blazing in Wednesday night's debate with Barack Obama. And his target will be the president's four-year failure to lead the U.S. economy back to robust health.

Romney is ready with a wealth of bleak statistics to prove his case that the economy is falling backward, not moving forward, as Obama consistently claims; and to prove that his failed policies have hurt the most vulnerable Americans in our country, especially the middle-class.

As for Obama, who has presided over an economy that a majority of Americans still say is either doing poorly, or is in a recession, well, he's got a lot of explaining to do.

If you still believe the pro-Obama puffery on the nightly news that the economy is improving, consider these new developments in just the last few weeks.

The economy is not only weakening much faster than the White House or its allies in the national news media want you to know, it's teetering on the edge of recession.

In a stunning report last Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department said the slowing economy barely grew at a snail's pace 1.3 percent in the second quarter. That's the economic equivalent of being on life support. In another time, the news might have been enough to sink President Obama's re-election hopes and give Romney's candidacy a major boost.

But the story, with few exceptions, was all but buried or played down by the network news shows and the national political news media. The chattering class was still talking about, and searching for, silver linings in the economy to make the case that it is improving under Obama's policies.

But the revised 1.3 percent growth rate was down from a dismal 1.7 percent rate the government had reported in August. And that was below an anemic 2 percent pace in the first three months of the year, which has plummeted sharply from 3 percent at the end of 2011.

The White House blamed the revision on the droughts across the Midwest, but the growth rate has been falling since last winter.

Moreover, the 1.3 percent rate followed other signs that the economy had all but stopped growing.

Nationally, unemployment stayed between 8.1 percent and 8.3 percent for the year, though more than half of the states saw jobless rates rise in September (another story buried by the news media).

The government also announced last week that durable goods orders plunged 13.2 percent in August. It was the steepest decline since 2009. And, while manufacturing rose just slightly in September, it followed three months of severe contraction, falling by a 1.4 percent annual rate. Hardly a sign of a turnaround.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.