Tales from the Trail

Obama: 4 years to improve economy until voters judge

President Barack Obama says he’s got four years to re-energize the U.S. economy before voters pass judgment and decide whether his will be a one-term presidency or a re-election.

But the new U.S. leader said he welcomes the challenge of being held accountable for his actions in office.

“Look, I’m at the start of my administration.  One nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable.  You know, I’ve got four years,” Obama said in an interview with NBC.

He predicted that a year from now it would become apparent that “we’re starting to make some progress.  But there’s still going to be some pain out there.”

Obama inherited a recession when he entered the White House on Jan. 20 and has spent his first two weeks on efforts to jumpstart the economy. OBAMA/ECONOMY

Club for Growth warns against stimulus vote

Beware any Republican who might fall for President Barack Obama’s sales pitch Tuesday for his $825 billion economic stimulus plan. A vote for the legislation will disqualify you from receiving the Club for Growth’s “Defender of Economic Freedom” award. 

The conservative economic advocacy group issued the warning just hours before Obama was to meet with Republican members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in hopes of drumming up more support for his economic recovery plan. OBAMA/

“No congressman can vote for the stimulus bill and claim to be a defender of economic freedom,” Club for Growth President Pat Toomey said in a statement. “In fact, the Democrats’ package is the antithesis of economic freedom. The bill is a paragon of government run amok, a ballooning deficit, fiscal irresponsibility, and political greed.” 

The First Draft: Friday, Nov 28

If Thanksgiving is over, it must be time for “Black Friday”. The big question this year is — will the traditional start to the holiday shopping season be a good one given the bleak economic picture? 
 
Retailers sure hope so, and they have slashed prices and offered incentives to lure shoppers to their store.
 
Terry Lundgren, chief executive of Macy’s said about 5,000 people had lined up outside the flagship Herald Square store which he called “encouraging” though he admitted in an interview on “Good Morning America” it’s been a “challenging period” for retailers like Macy’s.
 
“For retailers, this is the playoffs,” he said. “Starting now through the week after Christmas … We have much more aggressive pricing than we have in previous years.”
 
The state of the U.S. economy is on the minds of many — even al Qaeda.
 
Al Qaeda’s second-in-command published an Internet video saying the U.S. financial crisis was caused by Washington’s military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
In India, commandos took control of Mumbai’s Trident-Oberoi hotel but battles raged on with militants who were still holed up in another luxury hote, the Taj Mahal, and a Jewish center with about half a dozen foreign hostages.
 

After two days, the siege at two hotels and a Jewish center neared its end amid gunfire and more deaths. Police said so far at least 121 people have been killed.

Yale economist’s model gives Obama 4-point spread on McCain

DALLAS – Yale Economist Ray Fair’s econometric forecasting model for presidential elections gives an almost 4-point spread to Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s White House election.

The model, based on data going back almost a century, has just been updated after Thursday’s release of figures showing U.S. economic output shrank at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter as the
biggest pullback by consumers since 1980 overwhelmed an increase in government spending.

On his web site, Fair says in a two-party presidential race, the Democratic candidate can expect 51.91 percent of the vote while the candidate for the incumbent White House party — the Republican Party — is seen garnering 48.09 percent.

Pennsylvania Democratic voters see U.S. recession already

rtr1z301.jpgWASHINGTON – One interesting tidbit that came out of the exit polling from Pennsylvania Democratic voters is that a large majority believe the U.S. economy is already in recession — contrary what the current president said on Tuesday.
    
A whopping 88 percent of voters in Pennsylvania — a state trying to transition from steel and coal industries to high-tech and medical research — said the U.S. economy was in a recession, with 42 percent saying it was a serious recession and 47 percent said it was a moderate contraction, according to exit poll data on CNN’s Web site (page 5 of data).
 
On Tuesday, President George W. Bush cited the most recent economic data showing small growth in the fourth quarter of 2007. But he also acknowledged that the first quarter figures had not yet been released.
 
“We’re not in a recession.  We’re in a slowdown,” Bush said after meetings with leaders of Canada and Mexico. “We haven’t had first quarter growth statistics yet. But there’s no question we’re in a slowdown.”
 
Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both said the economy was in a recession as has Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain.
 
But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Wednesday such pronouncements were a little early in the game. 
    
“We don’t have data yet and it’s a little premature to declare it so definitively as a recession because the data isn’t in,” she told reporters.
 
The Commerce Department is due to release the GDP figures for the first quarter on April 30, which is also when the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate-setting committee will announce whether it is cutting rates again. 

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- Photo credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni (shoppers browse food aisles at discount retailer Wal-mart.)