Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - President Obama's last gasp strategy in this year's midterm elections is to paint the Republicans in Congress as obstructionists, accusing them of playing politics with America's economic welfare.

In his news conference last week, he insisted he had offered a number of new proposals to boost low-to-middle incomes, create jobs and strengthen the economy. But, he said, they had been stubbornly blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate.

In Obama's deeply partisan world, there aren't two sides to the legitimate policy issues that now divide Congress. There's only one side: his side. And anyone who opposes him and his party is doing it solely for political gain.

That's the whining, lame-duck message he's taking out on the campaign trail this fall in a rear-guard political bid to prevent the GOP, which now runs the House, from getting control of the U.S. Senate, too.

But Obama faces huge challenges with his petulant, sophomoric complaints. First and foremost, a majority of Americans no longer look to him as the answer to the many economic problems that still plague our country.

He's had five and a half years to get the economy fully back on track, but with very mediocre results at best, and that's why his job approval polls are among the lowest of his presidency.

A growing number of Americans no longer believe that he can ever deliver on his promises and with good reason.

Take family incomes. They've fallen from $55,600 in 2007 to $51,000, while the gap between families at the top and the bottom has widened.

About one-third of Americans have debts that were sent to collection firms, according to a new report last week by the Urban Institute and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute.

"It's a stunning number. And it threads through nearly all communities," said Caroline Ratcliffe, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, who wrote the report.

It was also reported just last week that homeownership fell to a 19-year low in the last three months, as shrinking incomes and tighter finances forced more Americans into rentals. That's the lowest U.S. homeownership level since 1995.

Yet, in a speech at a Democratic fundraiser last month, Obama was boasting, with a straight face, that "There's almost no economic measure by which we are not better off now than we were when I took office."

A hefty majority of Americans know better. The Gallup Poll said last week that 57 percent of Americans now say the economy is getting worse.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.