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Wake Up Republicans! Start Hammering the Obama Economy!

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON - A pivotal campaign issue seems to be all but missing from the 2015-16 presidential primary race – in both parties.

Just about all of the political polls that ask voters what are "the most important problems" facing our country get the same answers: the Obama economy, not enough good paying jobs and for nearly seven, painful years the federal government has stumbled from one scandal to another.

Yet with few exceptions, the presidential candidates are not focusing on those issues, and neither are their parties.

As I reported recently, just one in four Americans say they're satisfied "with the way things are going in the U.S.," according to last week's Gallup Poll.

It doesn't require much intelligence to know that you have to focus like a laser beam on the issues that concern the voters most in order to win the presidency. We're not doing that.
In a "Special Report: Proposals to Fix the American Economy," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor-in-chief, tackles these issues by showing which ones draw the most public approval, or the least.

"Gallup asked Americans to rate how effective they thought each proposal would be at improving the U.S. economy, from 'very effective' to 'not effective at all,'" Newport writes.

The list of the most popular and least popular policies is filled with conflicted notions, but also offers a surprising list of economic proposals that would be good for the U.S. For example:

"Reducing federal government spending" draws a hefty 55 percent as "very effective."

"Increasing the power of labor unions" is at the bottom of the list, wisely polling only 19 percent as least effective.

"Providing tax cuts for lower- and middle-income families" polls 44 percent.

"Giving small businesses easier access to loans to start or expand their business" draws a strong 58 percent.

Some of the most troubling signs on the list show little support for tax reforms that would boost economic growth and job creation.

"Reducing the capital gains tax rate" polls a dismal 26 percent. But President Clinton signed a GOP bill to do just that in his second term, and the economy took off, cutting the unemployment rate to 4 percent.

"Reducing corporate tax rates for businesses" draws only 24 percent, despite the fact that the U.S. top marginal corporate tax rate (39.1 percent) remains the highest in the world, putting U.S. corporations at a disadvantage in the global economy.

"Increasing income taxes on upper-income households," is one of the major planks in the Democrats' soak-the-rich economic platform, but it wins the support of less than one third of those polled.

"Increasing estate taxes on upper-income households" draws similarly weak support at 32 percent.

Another sign of the American people's common sense: "Creating more tax incentives for small businesses and entrepreneurs who start new businesses" polls 44 percent approval.

The poll reveals a deeply divided electorate, leery of economic policies that would accelerate business growth, create more jobs, and improve incomes – or do precisely the opposite.

"There is little agreement as to which of these proposed measures would be most effective at actually improving the economy," Newport writes.

"The economy is played out, for the most part, through the lives of Americans, and their views on what would or would not improve its functioning can provide important insights as policymakers focus on potential new economic strategies," he adds.

But the polling scores on these and other issues are still embedded in the Democrats' economic populism and have been proven counter-productive time and again.

President Obama has raised the capital gains tax rate among wealthy Americans, but the employment numbers announced each month are anemic, wages remain flat, quarterly economic growth rates have been weak and new business startups have been significantly lower than in previous recoveries.

I've been following the campaigns, just like other voters have, but I'm not hearing any detailed discussion of our economy that would effectively address any of its failings.

Among the Democratic candidates, its the same snake oil medicine: raise taxes on the wealthy, businesses large and small, boost the minimum wage, no matter how many employees are laid off, or how slowly the economy grows.

In the nightly network news shows, the Obama economy and all of its weaknesses and troubles are AWOL.

Search for any criticism of the administration among the Democrats in Congress throughout the ups and downs of the economy and little or nothing appears on your screen.

Republicans are hitting the economy, now and then, but they need to turn up the volume and the frequency.

There's a shocking economic story that the GOP needs to tell on TV, Internet and radio ads and in its campaigns – from now until the 2016 election. But I'm not seeing it.

The Gallup Poll says that only 26 percent of Americans "are satisfied with the way things are going," and it's like the proverbial tree falling the forest, but no one's hearing it.

Where are the GOP's economic leaders? It's hard to find them anymore. The late, great Jack Kemp would be relentlessly attacking this economy for all its worth, telling voters that "you can't have more employees without more employers."

Or reminding Democrats of President Kennedy's across-the-board tax cuts "to get America moving again" which he successfully did, by telling his party that "a rising tide lifts all boats."

Or President Reagan's similar tax policies that ended a severe recession in two years with record-breaking job creation.

Wake up Republicans and seize the moment, because the Democrats are asleep at the switch.

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