Bad Economic Timing for Washington. - Disconnect between pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans and the preoccupations of politicians.
Mr. Bush isn't alone. Congress, too, risks being seen as out of touch with Americans by focusing on the death of Terri Schiavo, the ethics of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the fate of the Senate filibuster at a time when inflation, interest rates and gas prices are rising while stock values plunge, the Washington Post says. "The disconnect between pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans and the preoccupations of their politicians has helped send President Bush's approval ratings on the economy down, while breeding discontent with Congress," the Post says. "The problem has yet to grow into a political wave that could sweep significant numbers of lawmakers from power next year, but both parties face risks if they fail to pivot their attention to economic issues."
(4-21-04, The Wall Street Journal online.)
Some more from the 4-21-05 Washington Post article quoted above:
Inflation and interest rates are rising, stock values have plunged, a tank of gas induces sticker shock, and for nearly a year, wages have failed to keep up with the cost of living.
Few economists would say the nation is at risk of slipping back into recession, but most believe the United States is back in a "soft patch."
An average gallon of unleaded gasoline cost $2.22 yesterday, 27 cents higher than election week.
Perhaps most important, wages are not keeping up with prices.
"People feel vulnerable and besieged," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute, "and they don't hear anybody talking about it."
Yet the only economic bills signed into law this year have tilted against the little guy: Legislation that restricts class-action lawsuits, and a major rewrite of the nation's bankruptcy laws, signed yesterday, that will make it harder for debt-ridden Americans to wipe out their obligations.
The Washington area has been insulated from some of the current economic problems.
Beyond the Beltway, the real curiosity is why the economy has not become a more significant political issue this spring.
If gas prices stay high and the market remains sluggish, the economy could mushroom into a dominant issue in next year's midterm elections.
Democrats have been slow to seize on the economy, focusing on Social Security plan, attacking House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and a Senate showdown over filibustering judicial nominations.
Democratic strategist Geoffrey Garin said Democrats should be working harder to make the case that Republicans are ignoring pocketbook issues while they pursue changes in the judiciary or try to protect DeLay. "The developing story line is about an arrogant Republican majority that's lost touch with what's important," he said. "For Democrats to convey that point, they have to invest a lot of time and energy."
The above should become part of our message and a politician's stump speech. Did anyone think of what Mr. Clinton would say?