Though optimism about a recovery abounded earlier in the year with more positives jobs reports from December through February–possibly giving a boost to President Barack Obama’s reelection chances. But economists are now tempering their forecasts for the rest of the year (NYT) and predicting a continued sluggishness that could work in favor of Republican challenger Mitt Romney (LAT).
The job report released for June last week showed the U.S. economy added 80,000 jobs in June, not far off from the 77,000 jobs added in May, and consumer spending remained stagnant according to Gallup polling, consistent with recent monthly spending levels and June spending in 2010 and 2011. The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 8.2 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department, leading to analysts to believe voters will see little economic change between now and election day, which presents a significant challenge for the Obama campaign.
At the National Review, Larry Kudlow writes that the flat numbers are undermining Obama’s message to voters that the economy is picking up under his stewardship. “No objective observer can deny that the economy is headed in the wrong direction. I don’t like playing the pessimist, but the numbers are the numbers,” Kudlow says, noting Romney’s promises to “return to free-market, supply-side policies on taxes, trade, regulation, and spending.”
At the Huffington Post, Robert Reich argues that most voters won’t really be focused on the election until after Labor Day, giving the economy — and President Obama — some time to bounce back from the summer doldrums. “If the economy is moving in the right direction then — if unemployment is dropping and jobs are increasing — Obama has a good chance of being reelected. If the present doldrums continue — or worse — he won’t be,” Reich says.
For more on the candidates’ stances, check this issue tracker on The Candidates and the Economy.
Suggested Other Reading:
At Foreign Policy, Kati Suominen says the United States must repair its economy to secure its place in the world and then get on with essential role in helping to build a stable, integrated, and growing world economy. “To lead abroad, the United States must reform at home by imposing ironclad fiscal discipline, cutting taxes and red tape for businesses, and locking in long-term policies,” she says.
At The New Republic, Betsey Stevenson writes that government gridlock is hurting the U.S. economy more than any one politician’s policy could. “Right now both political parties are shouting at each other that they don’t have a plan to fix the economy. It ought to be clear that we need a two-handed solution: Steps to encourage more hiring in the private sector and fiscal measures to stop the loss of jobs in the public sector,” she says. “But we also need to demand that our politicians respond directly to each other’s policy proposals.”
– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor