Donald Lambro

Everything, that is to say, except the economy which has become the unwanted orphan of his presidency. Uncared for, unacknowledged and all too often cruelly unnoticed.

But that's not how the Excuser-in-chief sees things. It's not his fault that after more than four years, the economy is still in rehab and on the Fed's life support systems. It's those big, bad Republicans in Congress who are to blame.

Senior White House advisers say Obama will remind Americans in his speeches this week that he has sent up proposals to fix the economy, but Congress hasn't acted on them. Did you miss these proposals? Does anyone know what they are? And whose fault is that? Hint: They are the same ideas he's tried before, without anything to show for it.

"The President thinks Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball on the most important issue facing the country," presidential adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in a mass e-mail Sunday announcing that Obama has gotten the message and will refocus his attention on the economy.

Which begs the question, When did he realize that the foremost concerns of the American people in every poll were the economy and jobs? It isn't as if this could have escaped the White House's notice. Political pundits and economists and newspaper reporters have been writing about his economic truancy for some time now.

"We may never -- or at least not anytime soon -- regain 'full employment,' meaning an unemployment rate, say, 4 percent and 5.5 percent," says economic columnist Robert J. Samuelson. "It is now four years from the recovery's start, and the number of jobs is still 2.2 million below the pre-recession peak. Since World War II, this has never happened."

"In the Great Recession, [hiring] took a bigger hit than in any previous recession -- and has still not recovered," University of Maryland economist John Haltiwanger told a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The 1981-82 recession pushed unemployment to 10.8 percent, higher than it got under Barack Obama, but the economy recovered in just two years under Reagan's pro-investment, pro-jobs agenda.

The economy was soaring at an 8.5 percent annualized growth rate in the first three months of 1984, when Reagan was preparing to seek a second term. Obama's economy was limping along at 1.8 percent in the first three months of this year.

The network news media tries to make Obama's job numbers, about 200,000 a month, sound great. But that's not enough to keep up with labor force growth, let alone reduce unemployment levels. Samuelson says at that rate, even with faster growth, we might reach full employment by 2018. But that's a fantasy at this point.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, one of Obama's earliest supporters, recently wrote, "We're still very much living through...a low grade depression."

The Washington Post's chief economic analyst, Neil Irwin, says "We (still) aren't living up to our full potential."

This economy is capable of full employment, but not with Obama's retro-1930s road-repair agenda.

We need to scrub loopholes from the tax code and use some of the savings to cut the corporate tax, lower taxes for all other employers, investors and workers, expand our export markets, build the Keystone XL pipeline, enlarge oil and coal development, and slam the breaks on wasteful federal spending. Then watch this economy take off.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

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