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Adjusting to Failure

On the recession and soaring jobless numbers, the administration is in defensive-mode, trying to “adjust expectations” on the stimulus. The White House felt obliged to put out a Washington Post op-ed under the president’s name, which left out any mention of those 3.5-4 million “saved or created” jobs that we were promised. As The Hill reports: “The [president’s Washington Post] op-ed underscores the importance to the White House of not letting the stimulus be painted as a failure by Republicans, who have hammered away at the package as a failure.”

I suppose it’s easy to paint something as a failure when it didn’t do what its backers promised it would do. Not only must Obama defuse the “It’s not working and neither are millions more Americans” storyline, he must also calmly assure the public and Congress that the worsening jobs-picture and continuing recession are no reason to postpone a huge government-run health-care plan with massive taxes. (“Some lawmakers have questioned whether the country can afford expensive health-care reform legislation and a new cap and trade system for greenhouse gasses when the economy is in such rocky shape, and when the nation is already running a 1.6 trillion deficit.”)

Can he do it? Well, so far even the liberal mainstream media are rolling their eyes about the White House spin. If this is how the San Francisco Chronicle tells it, the administration has its hands full:

The record-breaking $787 billion fiscal stimulus package that Congress passed in February is not breaking records on the job front. In California, with 11.5 percent unemployment, it has done little more than prevent layoffs of state workers. In response, Democrats who sold the stimulus as a way to cap the national unemployment rate at 8 percent are scrambling to explain why hundreds of thousands of jobs disappear each month. And House Republicans, who voted unanimously against the stimulus, have again ridiculed funding to save San Francisco Bay’s salt marsh harvest mouse as an example of waste by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, although the mouse lives outside her San Francisco district.

The reality is that the president’s central task — getting the economy back on track — is not going well. So long as the public sees a worsening economic picture and a president busy on items unrelated to the task at hand (saving and creating those jobs) the president is not likely to foil the criticism with a disingenuous op-ed column or two. People are looking for results, precisely what the president has not produced.



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