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Posts in "Economy"
August 5, 2014
I certainly didn’t know foreign policy would be front and center in the final months before the midterm elections when I wrote in late April that these issues “could have an indirect yet significant impact on the midterm elections.”
But now, it looks increasingly as if foreign policy — particularly problems in the Middle East and relations with Russia — will add to the president’s woes.
While international issues are a low priority to most Americans, the daily dose of bad news from the Middle East, Russia and Ukraine makes it difficult for the public to appreciate any good economic data and will likely depress the public mood. That’s important given that Election Day is just three months away (and voting starts even earlier in some states).
Obama’s problems certainly are not identical to those of President George W. Bush in 2006, when opposition to the Iraq War mobilized Democrats and independents against the White House, sinking the GOP and turning both chambers of Congress to the Democrats. And yet, it’s difficult to miss parallels between the two men and their situations. Full story
July 7, 2014
Last week’s news that the U.S. economy gained 288,000 jobs in June seems to confirm the upbeat economic assessments coming from many of the nation’s economists and Wall Street analysts.
The question is whether the data and increased optimism one might hear on CNBC will have an effect on the American electorate and alter the current trajectory of the midterm elections.
On a fundamental level, anything that improves overall sentiment about the direction of the nation is good news for President Barack Obama, and anything that is good news for Obama is good news for Democratic candidates around the country.
Good news could generate enthusiasm among base Democratic voters and, possibly, increase the chances that swing and independent voters won’t see the midterm balloting only as an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo and the president’s performance.
August 28, 2013
While the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up just short of 13 percent over the past year, it has lost almost 850 points since it hit its 52-week high of 15,658.43 on Aug. 2. With the Dow closing today at 14,824.51, that’s a drop of only 5.3 percent.
That recent slide in the Dow surely reflects concern about expected U.S. military action in Syria and higher crude oil prices, but it also is a function of the growing belief of investors that the Federal Reserve will start to taper its policy of quantitative easing.
For the Obama administration, this is a very delicate time. Further weakness in the Dow could undermine consumer confidence which, in turn, could short-circuit the economic recovery and undermine public confidence in the president.
Democrats certainly have reasons (both international and domestic) to be jittery about the political environment, but they should remember that Republicans will still have plenty of opportunities to look foolish, keeping attention on the division within their ranks and their most confrontational members rather than on the president.
And no matter what happens, Democrats will look to blame the GOP for any weakness in the economy or on the jobs front.
July 2, 2013
What do you call a politician who supports the Defense of Marriage Act and a balanced federal budget? Today, that describes a conservative Republican. Sixteen years ago, that was a two-term Democratic president.
Bill Clinton is a rock star among Democrats. He’s one of the most requested politicians on the campaign trail because his unique appeal allows him to go to regions of the country where President Barack Obama isn’t particularly popular.
But while Democrats are more than happy to have the former president preaching their praises, the party is rallying against two of the highest profile accomplishments of his presidency. Full story
June 10, 2013
Is the nation suffering from a national case of hypochondria, or are Americans rightly worried about the country’s future?
The answer depends, in part, on your (political) point of view. But it’s also true that every bit of good news — rising home prices, rising stock prices and an increase in federal tax revenues that improves Medicare’s short-term outlook — seems to be followed by a warning, a disappointment or tragedy, some of them weather-related, that brings gloom and doom.
The U.S. economy is expanding, but at a disappointingly slow pace. Jobs are being created, but not enough to make a real dent in the nation’s unemployment and underemployment rates.
The Obama health care plan is about to kick into high gear, but polls suggest that the public isn’t enamored with it. Republicans believe that dissatisfaction with the plan will fuel anger toward the president and his party as the months roll by. Full story
April 29, 2013
Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson is one of a handful of economic writers I pay a lot of attention to. If you are a political junkie, you should read his April 28 piece The Twilight of Entitlement, which has profound implications for American politics and for the nation’s psyche.
Samuelson isn’t talking merely about Social Security or Medicare when he writes about “entitlements.” Instead, he is talking about a set of “attitudes and beliefs” best expressed by President Bill Clinton when he said, “If you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have the freedom and opportunity to pursue your own dream.”
That’s no longer the case, the veteran columnist writes, noting increased financial anxiety and less optimism about the future in at least two recent surveys.
The post-World War II period offered growth, opportunity and optimism for Americans, but, if Samuelson is right, we have already entered a period which is more about dividing a relatively stable pie than about sharing in a growing pie.
“Popular national goals remain elusive. Poverty is stubborn. Many schools seem inadequate. The ‘safety net,’ private and public, is besieged,” he writes, arguing that Americans no longer believe that they can count on a strong economy, secure jobs, home ownership, fixed tax burdens, college education and an ever expanding government safety net. Full story