If the general public’s confidence in President Obama to handle the economy bears any relationship to the economy’s actual performance, it must be as a lagging indicator.
Less than a week after the announcement that unemployment has fallen below 6 percent for the first time since 2008 after soaring to a peak of 10 percent in the aftermath of the Great Recession, a new CNBC All America Economic survey finds confidence in the president’s ability to manage economic issues at an all-time low.
The survey found that only 24 percent of Americans reported having confidence in President Obama’s economic policies, while 44 percent say they have no confidence at all. Even among Democrats, only 45 percent expressed confidence.
In fairness, the CNBC survey was conducted before last week’s jobs report, which revealed that the economy gained an estimated 248,000 jobs in September. However, it is unclear how much a single jobs report would have moved public opinion, given that the economy has been producing an average of over 200,000 jobs per month all year.
Appearing in support of in support of Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor at a campaign stop in Arkansas yesterday, former President Bill Clinton essentially previewed the findings in advance.
“[Y]eah, the economy is coming back but nobody believes it yet because you don't feel it,” he said. “But remember what I said four years ago.… Financial crises take an average of 10 years to get over. We just crossed over and we’re now creating more jobs above where we were before the crash.”
“I don’t expect anybody to vote on it or be happy because middle class incomes haven’t risen – the average family is making less adjusted for inflation than they were the day I left office,” said Clinton. “But I am telling you the truth, we are coming back.”
The survey results were released on the same day that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in an appearance in Washington, described what he called “continuing signs of a strengthening U.S. economy” and talked up the progress being made by the U.S., attributing recent successes directly to the administration’s policies.
“We took definitive steps, starting in 2008, to staunch a financial crisis. We took more steps than most of the world did,” he said. “We took very decisive steps to get demand going again in this economy and we’re now reaping the benefits of that.”
Lew said he is optimistic that, despite a downturn in the global economy in general, the U.S. will continue on a strong growth path.
“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “It’s things that most of us in this country know: That if we continue to invest in infrastructure, if we invest in our people and in education and training, invest in research, we are going to continue to be the most vibrant economy.”
Though he conceded the U.S. is “not immune” to economic contagion from the rest of the globe, he said he doesn’t currently see “any imminent risks.”
But the rosy picture painted by the administration evidently hasn’t permeated the public’s thinking about the economy, which had been so bad for so long that millions of working age men and women have dropped out of the labor force from frustration.
However, if the president’s numbers were bad – everybody else’s were worse. The CNBC poll found that more people have confidence in President Obama’s policies than they do in those of either Democrats or Republicans in Congress.
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