Despite hype from the Democrats in Congress, President Obama and the national news media about a supposed economic recovery, Americans understand that our economy is in shambles. A new report shows that consumer confidence is now dropping once more after a slight increase in the last few months. The official consumer confidence index fell in February to 46, down 11 points from January. This rating reflects the horrible job market in this country. The current unemployment rate of 9.7 percent does not indicate the real situation with our economy. When those who have given up the job search and those who have been forced to take part-time jobs are included, the real unemployment rate in the nation approaches 20 percent. With one in five Americans out of work or under employed, it is easy to see why there is declining consumer confidence.
Obviously, Americans are worried about the economy and do not see new jobs being created. Overall, consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of overall U.S. economic activity. So, depressed consumer confidence will lead to less consumer spending and sluggish growth in the economy. If consumers have no confidence in the economy, there will not make major purchases like appliances, houses and automobiles.
The current consumer confidence rating is half of an average score and much below a rating of 100 which indicates a strong economy with robust growth. Despite the hype and the additional government spending, Americans are not seeing any real change in the economy. It has been over one year since the President’s $835 billion stimulus bill was passed by Congress and the results have been quite disturbing. Instead of the unemployment rate dropping, it has increased sharply. Many of the supposed “shovel ready” jobs did not materialize and billions remain locked in bureaucratic red tape.
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), as well as almost every congressional Democrat voted for the stimulus bill and promised that it would improve the economy. On the contrary, the economic consequences of the stimulus bill have been very troubling. Passage of the bill led to a higher budget deficit and more federal debt, and a lower value for our troubled currency.
Now, the President is pushing another massive government program, a healthcare bill that includes higher taxes and disincentives for economic growth. If President Obama really wanted to improve the economy, he would shelve his bill and focus on proposals to improve the economy. Again, Senator Landrieu joined with other Democrats and supported the healthcare bill. It is very unpopular and is only supported by 25 percent of Americans. Senator Landrieu and the Democrats need to listen to their constituents who are imploring action not on healthcare, but on the economy.
Reducing our national debt, limiting the growth of government spending, coupled with healthy tax cuts would get our economy moving again. It worked in the 1980’s when it was tried by Ronald Reagan and it would work again today. The key is a philosophy that focuses on reducing government, not expanding the scope of its power. The current administration wants just the opposite, an expanded role of government in our lives and in our economy.
The prevailing philosophy on Capitol Hill is too tied to “government solutions” to our economic problems. The public has no confidence in these measures and did not vote for such policies in the 2008 election.
President Obama, Mary Landrieu and the other Democrats were not elected on a platform of expanded government, higher debt and socialized medicine. They ran on an ambiguous program of “hope and change,” and won because of the unpopular policies of the Bush administration. Now the fiscal recklessness of Bush and company looks downright conservative next to the big government agenda of the Democrats.
Americans want to see jobs being created and an economy that is on solid footing. At that point, they will open up their wallets again. Right now, the economy is anything but solid and unemployment is much too high, so we should not expect consumer confidence to return anytime soon. Voters who are anxious and unhappy tend to blame the party in power and the Democrats control everything right now.
If Obama, Landrieu and the other Democrats continue to ignore the demands of the American people, the political consequences for their party will be severe, mark my words. The Democrats may pass their healthcare plan, but lose their congressional majorities in the process.
Jeff Crouere is the Host of “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. He is the Political Analyst for WGNO-TV ABC26 and a Columnist for selected publications. For more information, visit his web site at RingsidePolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].