A year out from the election finds President Obama in parlous political circumstances. The poor economy he inherited has been very slow to recover, with unemployment stuck above 9% and long-term unemployment at record post-war levels. The housing sector, where most people’s personal wealth is concentrated, remains mired in deep recession.
Although the President had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress in his first two years, he has only two major legislative achievements to his credit: the stimulus bill and Obamacare. But the first is widely perceived as both a total failure — the administration said it would keep unemployment under 8% — and motivated more by politics than economics. Its $800 billion was directed towards public service union members and liberal causes, such as “green energy,” rather than economic recovery.
Meanwhile, Obamacare remains deeply unpopular with the general public and is headed for the Supreme Court, which could well find its key provision unconstitutional next summer, just as the election gets into high gear.
Budget deficits have soared during the Obama years, with three trillion-dollar-plus deficits in a row. This has caused the national debt to swell to a level that, relative to GDP, has not been seen since the end of World War II. For the first time ever, the United States has lost its AAA credit rating, a deep embarrassment for the country and thus the administration.