Examiner Editorial: Economy gives Democrats election jitters 

Friday’s announcement that the economy unexpectedly lost another 85,000 jobs in December was the latest weave in a growing tapestry of bad news for the Obama administration and the Democratic majority that controls Congress. Earlier in the week, Democratic senators Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced their retirements, as did Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter. Their decisions came hard on the heels of four House Democrats opting to retire rather than seek re-election, and a fifth choosing to switch parties and join the GOP.

Republicans are even doing well in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states, where polls show conservative state senator Scott Brown within striking distance of liberal Democrat Rep. Martha Coakley in the special election later this month to succeed the iconic Sen. Ted Kennedy. The political environment has gotten so negative for Democrats that Sen. Ben Nelson aired a TV spot last week defending his support of the president’s health care reform bill even though he isn’t up for re-election until 2012.

No wonder veteran election handicapper Charlie Cook warns that “if Democrats suffer much more erosion in their ‘solid’ and ‘likely’ columns, control of the House will suddenly be up for grabs.” Cook also said Democrats will likely lose five or more Senate seats, meaning their filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority will be history after November, too. Things may be even worse than Cook acknowledged since, as Reuters’ James Pethokoukis pointed out, “Obama’s approval numbers are hovering just a tick below 50 percent” and “since 1962, the average House midterm loss for the president’s party when his approval is sub-50 percent is 41 seats. The GOP needs 40 to take the House.”

Considering the bleak facts behind the latest unemployment data, the outlook isn’t likely to improve any time soon for President Barack Obama and the Democrats. Hudson Institute economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth notes that “the labor force participation rate declined from 64.9 to 64.6 percent, the lowest since August 1985. This means that more and more Americans are dropping out of the labor force. Last month 661,000 Americans left the labor force.”

She also points to the fact that “the percent of Americans unemployed for 27 weeks and longer rose from 38.7 to 39.8 percent. This is the highest since BLS started keeping records in 1948.” And perhaps worst of all, according to Furchtgott-Roth, “the number of jobs created in temporary help services, an indicator of future demand, actually fell from 55,000 to 46,000. So not only are workers not hiring permanent workers, they’re hiring fewer temporary workers too.”

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
Pin It

Speaking of...

More by Staff Report

Latest in Editorials

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation