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As President Obama approaches the end of his fifth year in office, he’s nearing the time for his ann

Even Democrats foresee years of economic malaise

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

As President Obama approaches the end of his fifth year in office, he's nearing the time for his annual report card. It isn't a pretty picture.

Americans are giving him failing grades, as polls show his job-approval scores plunging to the lowest level in his presidency. Only 41 percent approve of his performance in office, while 52 percent now disapprove of the overall job he's been doing.

There are plenty of reasons for Mr. Obama's dismal marks — from his foreign-policy blunders and a troubling decline in our national security defenses to a still-high unemployment economy that remains subpar and sluggish. Throw in the Obamacare debacle that's become a disastrous metaphor for his administration's incompetence.

However, these and other failures aren't being pointed out just by his Republican opponents, but by Democrats, too, who are deeply troubled by what they see on a range of issues.

New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman, one of Mr. Obama's earliest supporters, recently raised the prospect of a painfully weak, job-starved economy lasting a great deal longer than most economists expected.

"What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?" the Nobel Prize-winning economist wrote late last month in his widely syndicated newspaper column.

Mr. Krugman's answer is that "economic reality is what it is. And what that reality appears to be right now is one in which depression rules will apply for a very long time."

Mr. Krugman is not alone in his dire depiction of the Obama economy. Other Democrats were saying the same thing, including Lawrence Summers, the former chairman of Mr. Obama's White House National Economic Council, and secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton.

In a recent, high-profile lecture before the International Monetary Fund's annual research conference, Mr. Summers said for the first time that we could be in for a long period of "chronic and systemic economic sluggishness."

In other words, this economy isn't going to get much better. We're going to slog through a painful, jobless period for the rest of Mr. Obama's presidency.

More recently, the House and Senate leaders of the intelligence committees in Congress, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said that America now faces a growing terrorist threat.

Mr. Obama won re-election by telling voters that al Qaeda's terrorist ranks were "decimated," we had them "on the run," and that we were much safer as a result. But Mrs. Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, who are briefed regularly in secret by the government's top security officials, are telling us a far different and more alarming story.

"The terrorism threat against the United States is increasing, and Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago," the two chairmen said in a joint interview on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, according to The Washington Post.

Mrs. Feinstein told CNN that now "there are more terrorist groups than ever, with more sophisticated and hard-to-detect bombs," the Post reported. "There is a huge malevolence out there," she said.

Does that sound like we're safer? Yet, perhaps no other shortcoming in this administration has been as shocking as the multiple failures of Obamacare.

The White House is telling us this week that the botched computer system is improved, but Mr. Obama also told us we could keep our existing insurance policies — a preposterous claim that turned out to be false.

As of Tuesday, the system was still producing a lot of error-ridden applications — up to one-third of them had mistakes — meaning, that many people may not have the coverage that they expect next month.

While the focus has been on fixing the online apparatus, the deeper problems embedded in his health care law are even more ominous. We're going to see many more layoffs and much more part-time hiring by businesses to stay under the 50-employee threshold for mandated health care coverage. We're already seeing sharply higher premiums owing to the mandated benefits many older Americans do not need or want.

Our government has become a mess of unworkable, wasteful, duplicative, archaic, unaffordable programs and agencies. However, Mr. Obama has been working to expand the size and cost of government, not reduce it. Obamacare is his latest, costly nationwide experiment.

Mr. Krugman's column also raised this disturbing question: "But what if the world we've been living in for the past five years is the new normal?" A number of economists now believe this to be the case, until we put someone else in charge who understands how capitalism can restore American prosperity once again.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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