Two Gallup polls may hold the answer to whether Barack Obama will be re-elected in 2012. A poll Gallup released on September 21 shows that, in most Americans’ eyes, President Obama owns this economy, and a second poll shows what a poor investment that is. Late last month, Gallup announced, “A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation’s economic problems.” (Emphasis added.) This is the first time a majority of respondents, 53 percent, have held Obama responsible for the economic climate he further damaged.
A second Gallup poll, released October 13, begins with the ominous words, “Fewer Americans had access to basic life necessities in September.” The survey found, while most Americans have access to the organization’s 13 basic necessities, that number is decreasing. Its Basic Access Index measures such things as access to food, health care insurance, a private doctor or dentist, and other daily needs. Only 81.4 percent of Americans had such access, down from a high point of 84.1 percent three years earlier. The survey found the greatest decreases were among Americans who no longer had access to a personal doctor, health insurance, or enough money for food and shelter.
Perhaps a reflection of Michelle Obama’s (misguided) priorities, a tiny fraction of Americans reported they had greater access to “affordable fresh fruits and vegetables” (0.6 percent) and “a safe place to exercise” (0.2 percent).
The economic data that pour in are devastating. The combined rate of unemployment and underemployment has reached its highest level perhaps ever. According to federal statistics, 14 million Americans are classified as unemployed, while 9.3 million are underemployed, and another 2.5 million are “marginally attached to the labor force.” Altogether, 26 million Americans lack full-time employment.
This translates into hard times for millions of American households. Rob Scherer of the Christian Science Monitor wrote, “The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the U.S. government began recording it five decades ago.” Scherer even quantified his findings: “The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession.”
Last week, this author reported a study that President Obama has presided over the largest liquidation of family purchasing power in decades. Its authors found inflation-adjusted median income fell by 9.8 percent since December 2007, with two-thirds of the decline coming during the Obama administration. According to former Census Bureau officials Gordon W. Green Jr. and John F. Coder, the wealth drain is largely due to Barack Obama’s inflationary policies and the longer length of unemployment.
That rate is unlikely to improve anytime soon. The director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf, testified before the “Super Committee” last month that unemployment will hover at 9 percent this year, falling to 8.5 percent by election day 2012. He also downgraded his estimate for national economic growth. In August, CBO projected 2.3 percent growth this year; in September, Elmendorf revised the figure down to 1.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the “Misery Index” — a combination of the unemployment and inflation rates — has risen to 13 percent, its highest level since 1983. This invention of Jimmy Carter’s, which toppled Gerald Ford in 1976 and Carter in 1980, may hold the same fate for Obama in 2012.