The Rasmussen Consumer Index measures the nation’s economic confidence on a daily basis and has now been below the 100.0 baseline level for two full weeks. That baseline was established in October 2001 meaning that economic confidence today is lower than it was in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. [emphasis mine]The Gallop Organization got a similar sentiment:
Just 13% of Americans now say the economy is getting better while 68% say it is getting worse. Forty-two percent (42%) say the country is in a recession already and another 13% say a recession is coming within six months.
Just 13% of Americans say economic conditions are positive, lowest reading since the Gallup Organization started polling on the question in 1991 — a time when overall consumer confidence was at one of its lowest points in the past 40 years. [emphasis mine]Even the Republicans' base is feeling the pain according to Bloomberg:
Affluent consumers, pinched by shrinking stock portfolios, falling property values and smaller bonuses, are behaving like their less-well-off peers: They're reining in spending.Yep, it's definitely a bad time to be a Republican. This is the state of our economy today as described by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
That portends a steeper slowdown than originally forecast for the U.S. economy, or even a recession, because the richest fifth of American households accounts for almost 40 percent of consumer spending, the main engine of economic growth.
But there should be no misunderstanding, whatever the vagaries of presidential politics, that the economy has taken a hammering during Mr. Bush's seven years in power. On the plus side, to the degree that the unemployment rate is a valid measure, it stands at a not-bad 4.6 percent. On the other hand, job creation, although it has had a few good months, has in general been abysmal, not even meeting the 150,000-per-month minimum needed to absorb new entries into the job market.And don't forget about our devalued dollar. OPEC is threatening to dump the dollar and rapsters are rapping about the Euro being the newest "bling".
Mr. Bush's two major tax cuts benefited his base, the rich. The national debt has soared on his watch, resulting in the United States having to spend $200 billion a year on debt service. China holds $1 trillion in U.S. public and private debt, another uncomfortable thought. Mortgage foreclosures are expected to reach 2 million, cutting into both Americans' sense of well-being and their willingness to spend money as consumers -- a development that could be catastrophic for retailers.
Gasoline at more than $3 a gallon, while oil company profits soar, is simply enraging, and no American can be unaware that both Mr. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, came to government from the oil industry. The price didn't go from $20 a barrel in 2002 to nearly $100 today simply because of growing Chinese and Indian demand. The riling of the Middle East that Mr. Bush's Iraq war created has played an important role in that phenomenon.
On a more basic level, the United States -- in no small part because of spending its money on wars and profits to oil companies and defense contractors -- continues to neglect its human and physical infrastructure. America is not educating nearly enough scientists and engineers. Its bridges, roads and technology development continue to get short shrift.
There's no doubt the president is responsible for the state of our economy, but that doesn't absolve the Republicans who went along with him each step of the way. They are equally responsible. They need to be held accountable too. The voting booth is the perfect place to accomplish that.