Thursday, November 3, 2011
In the news today: The economy, and it’s mostly bad. That’s ominous for President Obama, whose reelection hinges on turning things around in the next year. Fed Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t do Obama any favors with his honest assessment. Bernanke said that economic growth will likely remain “frustratingly slow.” The Fed is now predicting that the economy will grow much more slowly, with higher unemployment, than it predicted in June. The central bank predicts the economy will grow no more than 1.7 percent for 2011 and 2.7 percent for 2012. Unemployment will tick down only a half-percentage point by the end of 2012, the Fed predicts. Some private economists, including at BofA, predict even slower growth.
Meanwhile, Greece is in chaos. And a new report shows that the number of Americans in extreme poverty are at a record high: More than 20 million Americans, or 1 in 15, make less than half of the official poverty level. And yet another report says 46 million Americans are now on food stamps.
This could all make Obama a one-term president. The New York Times Magazine’s cover story gives Obama just a 17 percent chance of relection if he faces Republican Mitt Romney in a stagnant economy. The story labels Obama an underdog and says of the last eight elected presidents, only Jimmy Carter was in worse political shape at this point in his presidency.
The story looks at three factors – Obama’s approval rating, what might happen to the economy, and who Republicans might nominate – and calculates Obama’s chances for reelection. A summary:
1. Obama vs. Romney in a stagnant economy: Romney has 83 percent chance of winning, Obama 17 percent.
2. Obama vs. Romney in improving economy: Romney has 40 percent chance, Obama 60 percent.
3. Obama vs. Rick Perry in stagnant economy: Perry has 59 percent chance, Obama 41 percent.
4. Obama vs. Perry in improving economy: Perry has 17 percent chance, Obama 83 percent.
November 2012 is a long time from now, but if the economy doesn’t turn around, Obama is probably done.
GOP circular firing squad
The other big news continuest to be the sexual harassment allegations against Hermain Cain. Cain now blames Perry campaign insiders for leaking the story to POLITICO. A Perry staffer suggests it came from Romney. We say: Where it came from matters a lot less than whether the allegations are true.
This day in history
The federal income tax made its debut on Nov. 3, 1913, with a simple three-page form. A married taxpayer with an income of $5,000 paid $10 a year; one making $10,000 paid $60 in taxes.
Closer to home
Questions are arising over what the Occupy protests are costing taxpayers. The constant police presence at the Occupy Charlotte protest and marches has cost taxpayers about $105,000 since Oct. 1, says CMPD Capt. Jeff Estes. City Council member Andy Dulin, a Republican, wonders if that’s justifable in hard economic times. “Those folks have the right to protest and I would stand in front of a freight train to protect their First Amendment rights,” the Associated Press quotes Charlotte City Council member Andy Dulin as saying. “But at some point we have to say look, y'all come back during the day.”
Dulin is unopposed in the city election next Tuesday, but nine other seats are up for grabs. The Observer editorial board has made its endorsements in those races, as well as the heated race for school board.
Lawsuits are expected this week against the new Republican-drawn congressional and legislative districts. Greensboro News & Record editorial writer Doug Clark says what’s good for the goose is good for the gerrymander. The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s editorial board admires, sort of, Republicans’ ability to draw the lines in their favor.
Posted by The Observer Editorial Board at 10:28 AM