In the wake of the newest figures showing the unemployment rate still at 10 percent, reporter Jackie Calmes takes up for poor, overloaded President Obama and his economic "stimulus" package in her Saturday "news analysis" "Turning Focus to Jobs, if Outside Events Allow It."
After Calmes admitted that Obama and the Democrats "have now entered a midterm election year in which they expect to lose seats in Congress," she hawked Obama's stimulus package, as she has on several occasions before.
His push to overhaul financial regulation is bogged down on Capitol Hill. The housing market is still weak and his programs to help homeowners have had little impact. The Federal Reserve is under pressure from inflation hawks to begin tightening policy, while deficit hawks are demanding that government spending be restrained - even as some economists say more stimulus is needed to avert prolonged economic sluggishness or even another recession.
After lamenting how "the world keeps intruding as Mr. Obama tries to execute his promised pivot" with the Christmas Day airliner attack and health care legislation (hmm, whose fault is that?) she returned to the stimulus success story.
The challenge for Mr. Obama, then, is to find ways to telegraph his concerns about the economy while also looking like he has done something about it.
His chief contribution - the $787 billion stimulus package - became law nearly a year ago; recent extensions and pending proposals building on the package will bring it to about $1 trillion in tax cuts and spending. While economists generally agree it has helped avert even greater job losses, Republicans seize on the continued high unemployment rate to argue that the plan has been a costly failure.
Calmes is repeating Democrat-pleasing talking points from her November 21 lead story, which carried the tilted headline "New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as Worthy Step." That wasn't even the first time Calmes had used a news story to claim Obama's stimulus a success.
Calmes concluded her most recent piece with Democratic optimism:
Many economists expect job growth to resume by February or March. The unemployment rate, however, is expected to remain as high as 10.5 percent through Election Day in November, as discouraged people who have left the job market decide to resume their search.
Assuming the economists are right, Democrats have to hope that voters focus on monthly gains in new jobs as a sign of progress. Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster, said polling evidence suggested that was what many voters would do.