With the presidential election one month away and the economy remaining weak, Romney has, thus far, failed to make a convincing argument that he would handle the economy better than Obama. Romney’s economic plan remains vague, and he has thus drawn some criticism and advice from several conservatives.
According to an August Gallup poll, 60 percent of voters disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy. Despite this, Romney’s continued focus on the grim economic news has not translated for him in the polls and he currently trails President Obama by an average of 3.5 percent.
The Obama Administration predicted that the $787 billion stimulus that was enacted into law back in 2009 would keep the unemployment rate from rising beyond 8 percent. However, the unemployment rate peaked at 10.1 percent in October of 2009, and has remained above 8 percent ever since.
However, that doesn’t mean the stimulus was a failure, which is good for Obama. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office found that the stimulus created 3.3 million jobs, and may have prevented the economy from dipping back into another recession. Thus, while not leading to a robust turnaround, the stimulus seems to have kept the economy from getting worse.
The news is not forgivingly uplifting, however. Second quarter growth for this year was revised from a tepid 1.7 percent to an even weaker 1.3 percent last week. Consumer spending was up during August, but that was due to inflation, not to an increase in demand. The savings rate actually decreased as consumers dipped into their savings to deal with price increases, since wages failed to grow with inflation during the month of August.
The tepid post-recession economy remains a weak point for President Obama, but Romney’s handle on the economic woes has done little for him in terms of wooing undecided or independent voters. Using the debates to reinforce what remains wrong with the economy and to highlight his plans to improve it for a wide-range of Americans will be important for Romney to close the gap in the polls leading up to the election.