Donald Lambro

"It's probably fair to say that as goes health care, so goes the Obama presidency for next year," Democratic pollster Fred Yang told the Wall Street Journal last week.

The Democrats' political troubles are also worsening because Obama's economy remains mediocre six years after he came into office, saying he would fix it by throwing $800 billion at the problem. That didn't work, either.

You don't hear much about the nation's unemployment rate now, except once a month when the Department of Labor issues its "seasonally adjusted" numbers. The news media tends to overlook the painful reality behind the cold, hard numbers that are a daily survival nightmare in much of the country.

Consider this all-too-common story in Hagerstown, Md. where the Shenandoah Family Farms had three dozen or so job openings recently, but received 1,600 applicants.

A year ago, Neil Irwin, the Post's chief economic analyst, wrote a New Year's article that asked, "Will this be the year that the economy finally breaks out of its pattern of sluggish growth that has held since the recession ended in 2009?"

His answer last week "is a resounding no. On jobs, for example, the nation added an average of 183,000 a month in 2012 - and 189,000 a month through the first 11 months of 2013."

The economy grew a modest 2.8 percent in 2012 and averaged a more modest 2.6 percent annual growth rate in the first three quarters last year, he said.

"There is no dispute: In terms of overall growth rates, 2013 was a more-of-the-same kind of year," he concluded.

If that is what's in store for Americans this year, then Obama's got his work cut out for him, if he is to prevent a Republican takeover of the Senate and a stronger hold of the House.

Sadly, he and his advisers are treating this as a political problem, when it's an economic one that he's incapable of dealing with.

In Congress this week, the focus is on legislation that would provide funds for extended unemployment benefits, when the debate should be about growing the economy to produce jobs and higher incomes.

We know what's worked in the past -- cutting taxes on capital investment, on businesses that have the second highest tax rate in the industrial world, and on income.

Right now, the government is taxing every nook and cranny of our economy, and Obama wants to raise taxes even higher so he can spend more.

In his second term, after carrying 49 states by ending a deep recession in two years, President Reagan signed a bipartisan bill to cleanse the tax code of corporate welfare and other loopholes. He used the increased tax revenue to lower income tax rates to further boost economic growth.

Notably, the tax reforms were actively supported by prominent Democratic leaders like Rep. Richard Gephardt and Sen. Bill Bradley who saw lower tax rates as the key to stronger business expansion and job growth.

In 1997, Bill Clinton signed a GOP bill to cut the capital gains tax rate that Democrats said would swell the deficit. In fact, capital gains tax revenues nearly doubled, venture capital investment quintupled, and the economy soared.

Instead of playing midterm election politics, as Obama is doing, we need to move the debate toward reforms like these that will unlock capital investment, spur business growth, create new jobs and boost incomes.

This isn't rocket science. It's doing what has succeeded in the past and can work again for all Americans.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.