On Saturday, Barack Obama tried executing yet another “pivot” to the economy — his stock in trade when the White House finds itself under siege thanks to its own incompetence. It’s gotten so blatant that the news media has begun counting the pivots. The Hill checks its scorecard and calls this the fifth pivot of the year:
The White House, for at least the fifth time this year, is seeking to pivot to the economy, this time in a bid to change the subject from the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare.
It’s a common play for the White House, which frequently seeks to refocus attention on its jobs and infrastructure agenda when facing political crises.
The move is so familiar that NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd has dubbed it the “déjà pivot.”
The Hill counted at least five times the White House has sought to pivot to the economy this year by reviewing news accounts.
Republicans, citing their own statistics, argue that President Obama has circled back to the economy at least 14 times since 2011.
The formula is rote: Following a misstep or messaging error that battered Obama’s approval ratings, the White House announces events intended to promote the president’s economic agenda.
Rote? It’s become a laughable cliché. What makes it all the worse is that the White House has ignored the economy ever since its 2009 stimulus package, which it still claims was a great success. In the four years afterward, the civilian workforce participation rate has plunged from 65.7% to a 35-year low of 62.4% as millions of jobs disappeared from the American economy.
And Americans have noticed — across all partisan, ethnic, and geographic lines. A new poll from the Washington Post shows Americans living in economic anxiety at levels not seen in almost 40 years:
More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.
Job insecurities have always been higher among low-income Americans, but they typically rose and fell across all levels of the income ladder. Today, workers at the bottom have drifted away, occupying their own island of insecurity.
Fifty-four percent of workers making $35,000 or less now worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, compared with 37 percent of lower-income workers in 1992 and an identical number in 1975, according to surveys by Time magazine, CNN and Yankelovich. Intense worry is far lower, 29 percent, among workers with incomes between $35,000 and $75,000, and it drops to 17 percent among those with incomes above that level.
Lower-paid workers also worry far more about making ends meet. Fully 85 percent of them fear that their families’ income will not be enough to meet expenses, up 25 points from a 1971 survey asking an identical question. Thirty-two percent say they worry all the time about meeting expenses, a number that has almost tripled since the 1970s.
Only 38% are not worried about losing their job — overall, not just in lower income demos. A majority of 51% of those making over $75,000 a year worry at least a little about losing their jobs, and that goes to 75% for those earning under $35,000. The number for those who worry a lot in the lowest income demo actually exceeds the percentage of those answering similarly in the mid-1970s; it’s the worst reading in the poll series.
Obama seems to think that the economy is a political ATM available to him for advances in good will. The data shows that he’s long been overdrawn on this account, and his credit may end up getting revoked for good.