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Economic Indicators Up, Obama's Not

12:00 AM, Dec 28, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
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Not to be outdone in providing good news, the political class added to holiday cheer by finally announcing an agreement on a budget deal that pushes future approaches to a fiscal cliff two years down the road. There is still a battle to be waged over the debt ceiling, but Republican congressional leaders have no taste for a showdown with a president who would accuse them of taking the nation into default. The fracture in American political life might not be healed, but it is not as disabling as it was last year. Equally important, especially to latter-day Keynesians, is the easing of fiscal policy that resulted from the budget deal, while those worried that budgetary pressures are reducing our military’s ability to defend the nation found some relief in the additional funds being made available to the Pentagon.

In this improving year one important indicator has sunk like a stone—the popularity of and trust in President Obama. The portion of Americans disapproving the president’s performance has risen from around 42 percent to 54 percent according to an average of several polls calculated by Real Clear Politics. That is the result of the botched introduction of his signature achievement, Obmacare, an emerging awareness that if the introductory “glitches” are cured the fatal flaws in the plan will remain, and of his parsimony with the truth when he promised the 80 percent of Americans who like their insurance plans and their doctors that they could keep both. They can’t. It is now clear that Obama was fully aware of that fact and that support for his health-care revolution from the satisfied 80 percent would evaporate unless he made the false promise. Now, reality bites.

This was also the year in which the Anglo-Saxon competitive, market-based economic model saw off its competition, to the consternation of leftish critics. Both the American and British economies are on the road to recoveries, over-due and not very robust recoveries, but recoveries nevertheless. Meanwhile, China, lumbered with inefficient state-run enterprises, is struggling to avoid a credit crunch, while unemployment rates in the bloated welfare states of the EU remain stuck in double digits. Not models likely to attract emulation.

Next week—what 2014 is likely to look like. 

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