Why time has run out for 2010 Democrats

July 7, 2010

More and more, the political cake looks fully and thoroughly baked. Oh sure, perhaps congressional Democrats can sidestep the coming Republican wave through clever campaign tactics. Perhaps they can de-nationalize the November midterm elections by successfully waging dozens of bloody, up-close-and-personal knife fights coast to coast. Make every Republican a controversial Sharon Angle or Ron Paul with a radiation vibe.

Yet for that “fight them on the beaches” approach to really work, Democrats probably need a bit of  breeze at their backs. They need some some help from the economy, the dominant issue with American voters. As last week’s miserable jobs report made clear, however, help does not appear to be arriving anytime soon. Just 83,000 private sector jobs were created in June, after a mere 33,000 in May.

Sure, the unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent from 9.7 percent. But that’s because the workforce shrunk by 650,000, hardly sign of a burgeoning boom. Had it only stayed stable, the jobless rate would have climbed back up to 9.9 percent. The unemployment rate has now been been 9.4 percent or higher for 14 months. That’s twice the level Americans have becomes used to during the past two decades.

If history is any guide, pushing the unemployment rate below 9 percent by Election Day would take a sudden and dramatic surge in GDP growth to a six or seven percent annual rate. But something between one and three percent seems more likely given recent economic data. Also likely is an unemployment rate back above 10 percent. Even Mark Zandi, Nancy Pelosi’s favorite economist thinks that. Republicans will surely remind voters that Obamanomics was supposed to keep unemployment below eight percent.

So expect more erosion in President Barack Obama’s approval ratings, historically a key driver of his party’s performance in midterm elections. Now for a month of so last spring, it looked as if Obama’s audacious political and economic gamble from 2009 might pay off. Back then, the economy seemed to be growing at a steady clip of three to four percent. And it was adding private-sector jobs in modest bunches, 158,000 in March and 241,000 in April.

More importantly for the November midterms, the slow bleed in the president’s polls had stopped. Obama’s approval ratings seemed to stabilize right around 50 percent, disapproval in the mid-to-low 40s. Thanks to a bit of an economic bounce, Team Obama could not only plausibly suggest its $800 billion economic stimulus package had brought America back from the brink, but also that it had put America firmly on the road to recovery. The Spring Thaw would surely turn into Recovery Summer – both for the economy and Democrats long fearful of an Autumn Annihilation.

“Summer Swoon” looks like the better description, both economically and politically. The decline in Obama’s approval ratings has resumed. He’s now down to 44 percent approval, 46 percent disapproval, according to Gallup. Unemployment and oil seem to be topping legislative achievements likes healthcare and financial reform during this brutally hot summer.

Perhaps the economy will kick into gear in 2011. But for the Obama agenda beyond 2010, it’s all about preventing a historic political reversal in November. And with just three employment reports left until Election Day, the economic cake may already be baked, too.

8 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

[...] unlike today’s NASA, that’s the one commodity that may be in awfully short supply for the space agency’s current overseers, James Pethokoukis [...]

[...] this article: Why time has run out for 2010 Democrats | Analysis & Opinion | Tags: ationalize-the-november, cake-looks, coming, democrats, perhaps-congressional, [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CTIronman, James Pethokoukis. James Pethokoukis said: my Reuters column: Why time has run out for 2010 Democrats (no boom means Ds go bust) http://bit.ly/aDsVNP [...]

[...] headed for a cataclysmic mid-term election.  Jim Pethakoukis pretty well sums up the consensus in Reuters. More and more, the political cake looks fully and thoroughly baked. Oh sure, perhaps congressional [...]

America is never going to change until Low IQ’s are banned from voting. The idiocracy will continue voting for superstars, Arnolds, Obamas, until the entire country is besieged by criminal rulers. Leaders who uphold the constitution 100% are the ONLY ones that need to be voted in. I fear that America is doomed nevertheless unless a miracle comes and someone like Ron Paul is elected President. But that will never happen in reality because Americans are simply too stupid.

Posted by freetheenk | Report as abusive

[...] headed for a cataclysmic mid-term election. Jim Pethakoukis pretty well sums up the consensus in Reuters. More and more, the political cake looks fully and thoroughly baked. Oh sure, perhaps congressional [...]

if Ron or Rand are the good idea, I’m sure glad Americans are stupid!

Posted by AMERICANA111 | Report as abusive

Democrats with Obama are suing Arizona for trying to enforce the Federal law. Illegal Mexican votes will not make for the loss that is coming for this dastardly deed.

Posted by coinageboy | Report as abusive

As ever, we get precisely the leadership we deserve. In my opinion, humble or otherwise, the only thing worse for this country than the idiot Democrats are the evil Republicans who are guaranteed to take control of Congress this year. Make no mistake, we are headed into a season of exquisite and lingering pain.

Of course, what Republicans have always been best at is masking pain with lies, and I think we can expect to see a lot of sunny statistics being blown up our collective skirt once they’re back in charge.

Posted by JackMack | Report as abusive

Time has run out for Obama and the ruins of the compromised mainstream Democractic Party. Time has also run out for: the hideous self-disfigured remains of the Republican Party, the mentally imbalanced Libertarian (party of one), Beer aka Tea Partiers, BP, Wall Street, The Israeli government, Arizona, The Eye Rack and F-ghan wars, the war on drugs, war profiteers and war criminals.

I don’t think you have much left either, Jim.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive

Oil is flowing in the gulf, no help nor relief in sight. The oil dispersant only sank the oil to the sea bed, Obama rejected the Louisiana plan to stop the oil before it got to the beaches, oil skimmers were not skimming oil because the Jones Act was not waived. Unemployment continues to stay high after Obama wasted 3 trillion dollars on stimulus plans. Obama kept local, state and federal workers employed while ignoring the main street worker. More people are dying in Mexico and the southern US than in the two wars that are being fought while Obamas people choose to file a law suit with Arizona. Obama sent James Carvel to Afghanistan to work against the current president then wonders why he has problems over there. Obama shuts down NASA then has the head of NASA change the agency mission to creating harmony with the Muslim religion. Only Democrats inside the beltway think things are going good.

Posted by Alpha_Blogger | Report as abusive

AMERICANA111 said: “if Ron or Rand are the good idea, I’m sure glad Americans are stupid!”

You must be on welfare. The Democrat’s faithful base.

Posted by Kriminy | Report as abusive

For almost a year now, we have been exposed to report after report stating that we have turned the corner and the economy is on the mend, that things are not that bad, that happy days are here again. There is a problem with these messages. They ring hollow at best!
The real unemployment rate (that which includes all of the unemployed, not just those still collecting unemployment benefits) is at 21.7%. Yes, the government figures state that unemployment is at 9.6% but that percentage reflects only those individuals still collecting unemployment benefits. The individuals who have already collected the maximum, are self-employed but without work, or have given-up looking for work after a year or more are not counted by the government. The “U6″ figures are the most accurate unemployment figures and even the “U6″ figures do not include all of the unemployed. Remember when we were told that unemployment would not exceed 8%?
An recent AP article titled “Homes lost to foreclosure on track for 1M in 2010″ and written by ALEX VEIGA states that the number of homes foreclosed on in 2010 will exceed 1 million. In 2009, the number of homes foreclosed on was just over 900,000. The number of foreclosures prior to 2009 averaged just 100,000 homes. That is a 900% increase in yearly foreclosures since Obama took office. Only Obama, Pelosi, or Reid would try to rationalize this as being on the right track.
RealtyTrac® (http://www.realtytrac.com/gateway_co.as p?accnt=137300), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released its Midyear 2010 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows a total of 1,961,894 foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 1,654,634 U.S. properties in the first six months of 2010, a 5 percent decrease in total properties from the previous six months but an 8 percent increase in total properties from the first six months of 2009. Does this sound as if we are headed in the right direction?
Check what you are paying for groceries now vs. 2008. Is bread, milk, eggs, meat, seafood, cereal, or for that matter, anything you regularly buy the same or cheaper that it was in 2008. Has your income kept up with the increase in the price of groceries? Most individuals reading this article would have to say no and that is certainly not being on the right track.
Is your savings account (providing you still have one) earning the same or more than it did in 2008? Right track? Not likely!
40.2 million Americans are currently on food stamps (up 21% from just a year ago) and the White House estimates that food stamp usage will increase to 43.3 million Americans during the 2011 fiscal year. No one could possibly believe that this indicates that we are on the right track!
Those lucky individuals who managed to either keep their jobs or find new jobs did so at a reduced pay rate. Benefits at many jobs have either been drastically reduced or eliminated. Jobs are being shipped off shore at an astounding rate and many foreign nationals are being brought to the U.S. to fill existing jobs at a lower rate of pay than the U.S. citizens who once held those jobs were making. Again, I ask, “Do you think this is heading in the right direction”?
The current administration and Congress should have been promoting and passing legislation that would (1) give companies a reason to create new private sector jobs, (2) give companies a reason to keep jobs held by taxpaying U.S. citizens here in the U.S. and filled by U.S. citizens, and (3) give companies a reason to bring jobs that have been sent off shore, back to be filled by U.S. citizens. How, you might ask, could they do that? The answer is quite simple really, tax breaks! You see, companies are in business to make a profit for the individuals who invest in them. When taxes go up, those companies will find a way to reduce expenses, thus keeping profits up and one way to do that is to find cheaper labor, which usually translates to off shore hiring. Large enough tax breaks for employing taxpaying U.S. citizens would provide the impetus necessary to reverse the trend to replace taxpaying U.S. workers with foreign nationals.
Until the government realizes that the average U.S. citizen prefers a leg-up to a handout, the deterioration we are currently experiencing will continue. The bottom-line is this: Rather than taking steps that would create a job rich environment, the current crop of career politicians chose and are choosing to focus on programs that push spending (and ultimately taxes) to obscene levels. Programs like Cap and Trade, Obamacare, Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, Suing Arizona for trying to protect their citizens (and the country) against the results of illegal immigration, Bank Bailouts, and Automotive Company Bailouts have created a fiscal chasm that will probably take generations to bridge. Once again . . . this is absolutely not the right direction!
When U.S. citizens are told the truth and work together, they can accomplish any task but these two elements are key to beating the economic morass we currently find ourselves in. The truth has been quite scarce coming out of Washington recently and those elected officials (from both sides of the political aisle) warming the seats there offer divisiveness and partisanship . . . not leadership.
So, the next time you hear “The recovery plan is working” or “We are in a slow recovery”, question the intelligence, the veracity, and possibly even the sanity of the speaker. Common sense tells me that BS belongs in a pasture . . . not the Whitehouse or the Halls of Congress!

Posted by Colli | Report as abusive