Despite Bush’s best efforts to convince the public that the economy is really doing just fine, stagnating wages, incomes, and job growth, and eroding benefits, not to mention the credit and housing crunches, have shown the public firsthand that the situation is otherwise.
The most recent Gallup reading on the public’s economic outlook finds that 72 percent describe economic conditions as “only fair” (45 percent) or “poor” (27 percent), compared with only 28 percent who think conditions are “excellent” (3 percent) or “good” (25 percent).
Back in January 2001, at the beginning of Bush’s first term, there was an almost exact opposite reading of 67 percent excellent/good and 33 percent only fair/poor. This is a particularly amazing contrast when you consider that the current business cycle is now well over six years old.
What’s more, the public overwhelmingly believes the economy is getting worse, not better. In the same Gallup poll, by an amazing 50 points, people say the economy is getting worse (71 percent) rather than better (21 percent).
No doubt the Bush administration will have a ready solution for what currently ails the economy: more tax cuts. But the public has different ideas. In an October 2007 Los Angeles Times poll, the public was asked about the best way to stimulate the nation’s economy: an economic agenda focused on “returning money to taxpayers through tax cuts” or an agenda focused on “spending on such issues as health care and education.” The public preferred spending on health care and education over tax cuts by a 52 percent to 36 percent margin.
It’s apparent that the tax cut dog just won’t hunt anymore. The American public is anxiously awaiting a more constructive and progressive approach to our economic problems.