Thursday 23 February 2017

Democrats will be punished for death of American dream

Alex Spillius in Washington

President Obama on the campaign trail with Senator Barbara Boxer in Los Angeles
President Obama on the campaign trail with Senator Barbara Boxer in Los Angeles

AMERICANS are likely to make their president and the Democratic Party pay heavily today for their failure to stem unemployment amid gathering fears that the American dream has moved beyond reach for a generation.

In poll after poll in the run-up to the mid-term elections, voters have identified the economy as their main concern.

Unemployment has risen by 20pc under Barack Obama, remaining stuck on or close to 9.6pc since May of last year.

Julietta Strauss, of New York, lost her job with the US census bureau in March, and has struggled to find work since. More and more people were taking an "apocalyptic view" of America's prospects, she said.

"The general word on the street seems to be that middle-class jobs are disappearing, and while there's an increasing tendency for the rich to get richer, middle-class wages are stagnant," she said.

At the Tailhook Tavern in Philadelphia, a city visited by Mr Obama in the final days of his campaigning, Joseph Carroll said he had not had steady work for two years.

"The economy sucks. They talk about trickle-down but we don't see it round here," said the 44-year-old, who specialises in fire suppressants for construction.

"They bailed out the banks, they are making billions in profits again, they are making millions in bonuses again, but they don't want to lend to people who want to build up businesses," he said.

Though the economy was officially declared out of recession 18 months ago, voters do not appear to be giving Mr Obama credit for this.

Three out of five people disapprove of the way he has handled the economy, even though the president inherited an economic mess.

Across the country, there is a belief that the crisis signifies the end of America's global dominance. Many feel they can no longer assume that hard work by the present generation will be rewarded by a better life for the next.

Matt Bennett, the head of communications at the Third Way think tank, said the economy was the main reason the Democrats would suffer at the polls, but that a deeper anxiety was also playing a role.

"People are worried the American dream is over," he said."They fear that something fundamental has shifted and there is no way to get back to where we were.

The Democrats have failed to convince voters that they deserve credit for the $800bn (€576bn) stimulus passed in the second month of Mr Obama's administration.

Though numerous economists have agreed that it saved jobs, the benefits were hard to sell to the public, and the cost was politically damaging.

Yesterday, Mr Obama retreated to the White House to recover from his energy-sapping final blitz through four states.

His popularity has fallen dramatically in his first two years in office. The rough state of the American economy seems to be the prime reason.

Democrats also blame the White House for an inability to convince Americans that substantial legislative victories -- healthcare and financial regulatory reform -- are benefiting the country.

Beyond that, history is working against the Democrats this year. The party of the president historically loses ground during elections at the midpoint of the presidential term.

With voters appearing largely decided on candidates, the president and Democratic heavyweights like former President Bill Clinton have travelled the country exhorting party members to go to the polls.

The president closed out his whirlwind weekend political push with an appearance for Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and a plea for Democrats to vote. "Don't let anybody tell you this fight isn't worth it," Mr Obama told the friendly crowd at Ohio's Cleveland State University. "It's always been hard to bring about change." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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