The Magazine

The Obama Economy

Jun 13, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 37 • By FRED BARNES
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The Republican who brought up the issue, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, got nowhere. Obama seemed dubious Jackson had really said this. Capito said Jackson had told her so, face to face. Obama’s response was vague, but he gave no ground.

Even where Obama seemed to agree with Republicans, he didn’t really. The president is a master of lip service. When Republicans mentioned free trade agreements, medical liability reform, and cutting the corporate tax rate, the president said amen. He’s with them. But there’s always some reason he can’t act. On trade, for instance, Obama is waiting for Congress to pass assistance to alleged victims of foreign competition before pushing to ratify deals with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. It’s a sop to unions, nothing more.

There’s a lesson here for Republicans, and a huge opportunity. That Obama’s policies are in large part responsible for the weak recovery and high unemployment is beyond dispute. Yet Republicans haven’t made the case effectively enough that Obama’s decisions are directly to blame.

They need to. The economy is languishing, joblessness is stuck at an abnormally high rate, the housing market remains in decline, the deficit will exceed $1 trillion for every year of Obama’s term, the national debt is north of $14 trillion, and markets are anxious. There’s a connection between our troubled economy and Barack Obama. If Republicans drive home the link, they’ll oust him and win big in 2012. It’s as simple as that.

—Fred Barnes  

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