Obama faces his own political 'headwind' on the economy
President Obama is enjoying his best favorability ratings in months. But polls show Americans are worried and mad about the economy – a fact that's a major challenge to Obama's reelection bid.
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“The house price collapse is now worse than it was during the Great Depression,” writes Brett Arends, senior columnist for MarketWatch and a personal-finance columnist for the Wall Street Journal. “It’s yet more proof that the nationwide financial bust is far worse than Wall Street is pretending, and it may be getting worse instead of better.”
That’s not a comforting thought for Obama.
The lesson of FDR
In recent days, much has been made of the correlation between joblessness and the chances that an incumbent president can be reelected – that “no American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent,” as Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times put it.
Some observers question that line of thinking. After all, they point out, FDR was reelected with double-digit unemployment rates in 1936 (16.6 percent) and 1940 (14.6 percent). Still, the trend was improving during those Great Depression years, and Obama took office when the unemployment was “just” 7.8 percent.
Not surprisingly, administration officials accentuate the positive – that the nation’s economic “headwind” is caused in part by gas prices, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and unease about the European fiscal situation.
"What we know is that we have moved a long way from when the economy was in a rescue mode, the private sector was in freefall, and the government was the only thing standing between us and falling into another great depression," Obama’s chief economic advisor Austan Goolsbee said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
"Don't make too much of any one month's job report because they are highly variable," he cautioned. "After the last recession, in this comparable period, post-recession, we had lost 100,000 jobs. We've added more than two million jobs."
But it could take more than incremental improvements in the economy to reverse the angst now felt by many Americans – voting Americans. And that has to be a worry for the White House.