Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - President Obama flew to Ann Arbor, Mich. Wednesday where the jobless rate is close to 8 percent to boast about his economic policies.

He ridiculed and mocked Republican ideas about how to strengthen economic growth, which has slowed to less than 2 percent, and touted his own plan to raise the hourly minimum wage for America's lowest paid workers.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to go into one of the country's major manufacturing states where the unemployment rate is 7.7 percent and tell its residents that you've got all of the answers about how to create more jobs.

It takes even more gall to tell Michigan's job-seeking workers that the answer to their troubles is to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 -- an idea the Congressional Budget Office says will kill at least half a million jobs, and possibly a lot more.

But there he was, calling the Republicans' fiscal policy ideas a "stinkburger," and a "meanwhich." The president, who hasn't a clue how to put America back to work, has resorted to Chicago-style name- calling.

There are people who love that kind of political combat, but his falling job approval polls suggest that you can't fool all the people all the time, as Abraham Lincoln once said.

Sadly, however, Michigan has plenty of company in the unemployment sweepstakes. Tiny Rhode Island's jobless rate is 9 percent. In Illinois, Obama's homestate, it's 8.7 percent. In Nevada, home to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (who's never uttered a word of complaint about Obama's shameful jobs record), it is 8.5 percent.

The list of high unemployment states is pretty long, and includes some of the most populated states in the country: California, 8.0 percent, New Jersey, 7.1 percent, New York, nearly 7 percent.

Obama, and his advisers, were also boasting about the average national unemployment rate in the mid-6 percent range. But millions of Americans, as the above numbers show, are not in the average column, and are struggling to find full time work, though all too often are forced to take part-time instead.

White House apologists point to the lower 6.6 percent unemployment rate. But the declining percentage rate is largely the result of a shrinking labor force participation rate, as discouraged, long-term, jobless Americans stop looking for work and are no longer counted among the ranks of the unemployed.

If these workers officially reentered the work force, the real unemployment rate would be 9.6 percent, says the University of Maryland's business economist Peter Morici.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.