- - Thursday, July 3, 2014

Republicans have a wealth of political issues that will dominate the 2014 midterm election races and determine their outcome.

The national news media have done their best to try to bury these issues, play them down or sugarcoat them, but the American people know better. They have persistently put these issues at or near the top of every voter poll in the past six years of President Obama’s scandal-ridden, trouble-plagued administration.

It’s hard to break through and overcome the power of the Washington news media that have worked hard to cover up the Obama White House’s blunders. However, this will be the GOP’s chief challenge in the next four months as we race toward the fall elections.

Here are the issues Republicans must pound between now and then, and where they stand today.

The Obama economy: No other issue is more critical in the minds of the voters as they have watched the once mighty U.S. economy grow weaker, repeatedly turning in one mediocre, lackluster performance after another.

Six years into the so-called recovery, economic growth wasn’t just weak. It was actually shrinking in the first three months of this year by a shocking 2.9 percent. Our exports were anemic, and business inventories were down. It was the worst quarter for economic growth since the middle of 2009.

Mr. Obama has been running around the country telling us that manufacturing is exploding. In fact, orders to U.S. factories fell in May by 0.5 percent.

It’s not going to get much better. The Federal Reserve forecasts that growth will stumble along at little more than 2 percent this year, held back by Mr. Obama’s anti-business, anti-growth policies.

That leads to the second-most-important issue: jobs. The average unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 percent. That’s largely a result of millions of discouraged, long-term jobless workers who have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted among the unemployed.

If the same percentage of these adult workers who’ve dropped out of the labor force were looking for work again, as when President Obama took office, the real jobless rate would be 10.2 percent, says economist Peter Morici at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

Fed Chairman Janet Yellen says this is one of the most serious problems confronting the economy, and the labor-force participation rate is not going to rise soon. Our once-muscular workforce is shrinking, a disturbing sign of an economy and a nation in decline.

Hidden or downplayed in the June jobs numbers is the harsh reality that many of them are low-paying temporary jobs. Nearly 80,000 of them were added to the labor force last month, according to the ADP payroll processor’s latest survey.

Persistently sky-high, $600 billion budget deficits and a growing, $17 trillion debt: Americans are justifiably worried about our debts and want the government to abandon its spendthrift ways. The GOP-led House has passed one budget after another to do that, only to see the Senate refuse to negotiate common-sense ideas to slow down the rate of spending.

Hundreds of needless programs should be shut down, like the Export-Import Bank, which dishes out tens of billions in corporate welfare. Departments need to be consolidated and reduced in size. Entitlements need reforming to return them to fiscal health for the next generation.

Obamacare: There’s a huge scandal brewing in the president’s 2010 Affordable Care Act that was revealed in two reports this week by the inspector general’s office in the Department of Health and Human Services.

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