EDITORIAL: Shrinking economy, fading hope

Stagnation is the prospect that dare not speak its name

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Stagnation is not an appealing campaign promise. The Democrats dare not ask, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” They dare not even ask whether Americans are better off than even four months ago. New statistics reveal that the economy just shrank another 3 percent.

New unemployment claims are still well north of 300,000. The lines at the unemployment office are as long as ever. Fortunate consumers with cash are holding on to it. Wages lie flat. Obamanomics is making the situation worse. Even international analysts see it.

The International Monetary Fund just dialed down its forecast for the U.S. economy with a prediction that full employment won’t return until 2017 — after President Obama is gone. The Fund bases its estimate on official statistics, which understate the depth of the problem. Keith Hall, the former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates that 2 million unemployed young people have never worked or have stopped looking for work. This guarantees they will remain below the poverty line and that the economy will continue to shrink.

Vice President Joe Biden has been saying for four years that we’re in “Recovery Summer,” but if this is a recovery summer, we dread to think of the approaching recovery winter. With only a little more than four months before voters decide whether a Republican or a Democrat will lead the U.S. Senate, the president and his allies must work overtime to spin the signs and numbers of stagnation as evidence that prosperity is just around the corner. That’s a promise we’ve heard before. It didn’t work for Herbert Hoover, and it won’t work for Barack Obama.

Gallup finds that 58 percent of Americans think the economy is getting worse. They feel it in the pocketbook when they pull into a gasoline station, pay the light bill or shop at the supermarket. The administration’s policies, abetted by the Senate under the control of Majority Leader Harry Reid, have failed miserably to deliver the promised jobs and economic growth.

Some red-state Democratic senators might still retain their seats, but not unless they repudiate the clearly failed policies of the past and the man who continues to prescribe his failed medicine. They must embrace a bipartisan plan to cut the size of government and give the private sector space to grow. The chances of that happening are, alas, between zero and none. The next report on the shrinking economy is likely to be about the shrinking Democratic majority in the Senate.

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