Employers eliminated 216,000 jobs in August even as the larger economy showed signs of turning around, suggesting that while the pace of job losses continues to slow, American workers will still be among the last to benefit from a recovery.
It’s important to keep this in mind as we consider the president’s falling poll numbers. Public views of presidential performance are strongly tied to the state of the economy. It’s likely that if the economy were doing better people would like Obama more, therefore they would like what he says about health care more, therefore senators would be more inclined to say nice things about Obama’s health care proposals, therefore the press would be full of stories about the brilliance of Obama’s approach to health reform. Ten percent unemployment and falling wages makes everyone’s legislative strategy look dumb.
Your sobering thought of the day is that the unemployment rate will very plausibly continue to edge up for six more months, so if you thought the “long hot summer of crazy” was fun, just look forward to how nutty things get during the looming “winter of discontent.” We’ll probably never know if a different strategy could have gotten the administration a bigger and/or better stimulus bill, but I think the failure to deliver one of adequate size will prove to have hobbled the first couple years of the administration in crucial ways.