Donald Lambro

The stock market is tanking on fears that this shut down may last longer than expected, hurting the economy and in the process, shrinking retirement funds.

These and other factors have blotted out any discussion about the Obama economy, high unemployment, slow job creation rates, or weak economic growth.

In a perverse, political way, the battle over the shutdown has handed Obama a gift, a temporary reprieve from what is and has been his biggest failure as president. It's also given him the best target he could hope for: the opposing party, whom he relentlessly blames for all the ills that now beset the government, the country and his presidency.

The president of course is taking full advantage of the GOP's weaker position if the crisis continues. In baseball terms, he expects to hit a grand slam, with bases loaded.

Obama brought in some of Wall Street's top leaders to a White House briefing Wednesday and they dutifully went before the cameras to warn of a looming catastrophe -- especially if Congress doesn't raise the debt limit before Oct. 17 and the government is forced to default or delay on paying some of its debts.

He effectively blunted charges he wouldn't meet with House and Senate leaders by calling lawmakers in late Wednesday. The meeting was "cordial but unproductive," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. No surprise there.

Obama has the bully pulpit in this fight and is using it for all it's worth, while Republicans seemed unusually mute and confused about how to respond.

If Obamacare is truly as harmful to the economy and the government's future solvency, as I believe it is, then where were the arguments saying so? Speaker John Boehner's podium was no match for Obama's White House pulpit and the unending TV reports of America's government shutting down.

There was plenty of evidence showing how Obamacare was hurting our economy, as reports have come in across the land from employers reducing their hiring, and health care premiums rising faster than worker incomes.

But it was hard to find articulate GOP voices who were bringing this to the battle and returning Obama's fire.

Indeed, it is nearly impossible to find any Republican in Congress who can fashion a compelling indictment of the Obama administration's five-year record on the economy.

The late, great Jack Kemp could effectively deliver the tax cut arguments for stronger job growth, using John F. Kennedy's anti-class warfare declaration that "a rising tide lifts all boats."

President Reagan embraced and championed Kemp's ideas for a rebirth of American capitalism that led us out of a severe recession in two short years. And he showed the GOP how to get his agenda past a Democratic House.

Republicans should be pounding Obama daily over his painfully lackluster economy, and dishing out the figures showing that Obamacare will make it much worse.

A Washington Post-Miller Center Poll late last month on the economy revealed a large majority of Americans have a much dimmer view of their economic future as a result of their "frustrations and struggles" over the past few years.

Three-fourths of those polled say it's harder to "find good jobs"; 71 percent say it's harder to "save for retirement"; 66 percent says it's harder to "get ahead financially"; and 54 percent says it is now harder to "find decent, affordable housing."

Obama is not getting the level of blame he deserves for the economic hardships these Americans are enduring in their daily lives as a result of his incompetent policies.

It's time for the Republicans to take off the gloves and start hitting back harder in this shutdown fight. They've got some powerful ammunition but, tragically, they're not using it.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.