OK. I’m not going to touch the Weiner story. And with fretting over the congressman and his Twitter account, Sarah Palin and Snooki, the lamestream media have their hands full these days. Hope reporters, editors and TV Talking Heads don’t miss the big story: the economy, jobs and how this could play out in the run for the White House this year and next.
It now appears that the U.S. economy — in the midst of a jobless recovery from recession — is beginning to slow. Here’s from WaPo, “U.S. economy: Manufacturing slowdown the latest sign the recovery is faltering“:
The economic recovery is faltering, and Washington is running out of ways to get it back on track.
Two bright spots over the past few months — manufacturing and job creation by private companies — both slowed in May, according to new reports Wednesday. The data come amid other reports of falling home prices, declining auto sales, weaker consumer spending and a rising pace of layoffs.
Just a few months ago, the economy seemed poised to finally strengthen. Business confidence was rising, and extensive government efforts to foster growth were underway. But those hopes are being dashed. Forecasters who once projected economic growth of 3.5 to 4 percent for the year have slashed their estimates with each round of disappointing numbers.
Instead of accelerating, the U.S. economy is puttering along at a growth rate of 2 to 3 percent — barely enough to bring down joblessness slowly, if at all.
That means that millions are unemployed, many are underemployed and others have given up looking for work altogether. That’s not good news for Prez O as he looks to keep his job in 2012.
Here’s from the NYT, “Economic Data May Be Key to Obama’s Job“:
No American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent.
Seventeen months before the next election, it is increasingly clear that President Obama must defy that trend to keep his job.
Roughly 9 percent of Americans who want to go to work cannot find an employer. Companies are firing fewer people, but hiring remains anemic. And the vast majority of economic forecasters, including the president’s own advisers, predict only modest progress by November 2012.
The latest job numbers, due Friday, are expected to provide new cause for concern. Other indicators suggest the pace of growth is flagging. Weak manufacturing data, a gloomy reading on jobs in advance of Friday’s report and a drop in auto sales led the markets to their worst close since August, and those declines carried over into Asia Thursday.
But the grim reality of widespread unemployment is drawing little response from Washington. The Federal Reserve says it is all but tapped out. There is even less reason to expect Congressional action. Both Democrats and Republicans see clear steps to create jobs, but they are trying to walk in opposite directions and are making little progress.
Republicans have set the terms of debate by pressing for large cuts in federal spending, which they say will encourage private investment. Democrats have found themselves battling to minimize and postpone such cuts, which they fear will cause new job losses.
House Republicans told the president that they would not support new spending to spur growth during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
“The discussion really focused on the philosophical difference on whether Washington should continue to pump money into the economy or should we provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow,” said Eric Cantor, the majority leader. “The president talked about a need for us to continue to quote-unquote invest from Washington’s standpoint, and for a lot of us that’s code for more Washington spending, something that we can’t afford right now.”
There really are some big fish in the skillet these days: government spending, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the war in Afghanistan among them. But when we get to making decisions in 2012, we’re going to be looking at jobs and the economy. And as a nation, we might not like what we see.