Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Ohio Thursday morning to highlight the impact of economic stimulus legislation – a decision announced just hours after a new poll showed voters in the swing state are unhappy with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy.
The trip may show how sensitive the administration is to public dissatisfaction with the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act it pushed through Congress in February and to signs of voter unhappiness with Team Obama’s economic policies, especially in industrial states hardest hit by the recession.
The vice president will travel to Cincinnati to sing the praises of the Recovery Act at the American Can Building, where an abandoned factory is being converted into what Mr. Biden’s office calls a “multi-use economic development project.” Later in the day, he will travel to Saratoga County, N.Y., for another Recovery Act event at a local high school.
Democrats in disarray?
The trip comes as Democrats on Capitol Hill debate the need for additional economic stimulus to deal with a national unemployment rate expected to climb from its current 9.5 percent, a 26-year high. A record federal budget deficit would make passage of additional stimulus problematic.
On Tuesday, party leaders seemed in disarray on the stimulus issue. House majority leader Steny Hoyer said, “We need to be open to whether or not we need further action.” On the same day, Senate majority leader Harry Reid said, “There is no showing to me that another stimulus is needed.”
Voter unease with the economy and Mr. Obama’s handling of it is becoming apparent. Tuesday morning, the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released a survey showing that 48 percent of Ohio voters disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy, while 46 percent approve. Ohio, where joblessness hit 10.4 percent in May, has been hard hit by the recession.
Plunging poll numbers – in one state
The same poll showed Obama’s overall approval numbers have slipped sharply in the battleground state. When voters in Ohio were asked whether they approve of the president’s performance, 49 percent said yes and 44 percent said no. That is the lowest rating Obama has received in any national or statewide poll Quinnipiac has conducted. It represents a drop of 13 percentage points in his approval rating since May.
Biden recently spoke bluntly about the state of the economy – and the administration’s growing ownership of the problem. Appearing Sunday on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Biden said, “The truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited.” The administration had predicted joblessness would peak at 8 percent.
What Joe meant to say
While in Moscow Tuesday, Obama appeared to correct the vice president, saying, "I would actually – rather than say misread, we had incomplete information.” He made the comment in an interview with NBC News.