Solving economy’s ills still voters’ top priority

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, June 24, 2012

Economic angst continues to grow nationally and it seems that few people believe the private sector – or any sector for that matter – is doing “just fine” as President Barack Obama recently stated.

     Eighty-five percent of those participating in an unscientific DAILY LEADER poll last week disagreed with the president on his “just fine” comment. An Associated Press poll last week also revealed that a majority of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling the economy.

     While local economic activity is showing modest signs of recovery – sales tax collections are up, unemployment is down and some construction projects are evident – people nationally are not feeling good about the state of the economy and their personal situations. That’s typically not a good thing for a sitting president with an election just a few months away.

     Many polls show a statistical dead heat between Obama and Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger.

     According to the poll, about 4 out of 10 adults believe they are worse off now than they were four years ago, compared with nearly 3 out of 10 who say they are doing better now. Of those who say they’re doing worse, 60 percent intend to vote for Romney in November.

     Some, though, are still not sold that Romney will be any better than Obama when it comes to solving the economic dilemma. Indeed, 56 percent overall suspect Obama will win a second term.

     With party nominating conventions in the near future, both Obama and Romney can expects “bumps” in popularity in the wake of their respective gatherings. That means any readings of the political tea leaves during those times should be taken with a big grain of salt.

     When the hoopla dies down and the election becomes mere weeks away, the economy – unless a huge change for the positive happens before then – will still be foremost in voters’ minds and they will want to know how the candidates plan to tackle the issue. Clearly, it will take more than the rhetoric that is constant in campaigns these days and political sound bites that sound good but mean nothing.

     Both candidates and their respective parties would do well to begin enunciating their proposals for going about fixing the economy.

     From entitlement reforms to justified tax increases, those proposals will include some hard medicine. Voters, however, must be willing to hear the ideas openly and consider them carefully if answers are to be found.

     Comments like Obama’s “just fine” remark ignore problems, and waving the gay marriage flag in hopes of political gain puts unnecessary focus on a side issue. From the other side, going after the attorney general in an election year represents more of the “gotcha” politics that have been played by both parties for years.

     To borrow the familiar phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid.” And voters want to know what the candidates are going to do about it.