The new CNN/USA Today poll on the economy offers few surprises.
- 90 percent of those polled characterize the economy as poor (40 percent somewhat poor + 50 percent very poor). This is the worst outcome since December of 2008 when 93 percent characterized the economy as poor.
- The majority (52 percent) blame Bush and the Republicans. It is interesting to note that this is the best showing to date for the GOP. In July, by comparison, 57 percent blamed Bush and the Republicans. Since then, the percentage blaming Obama and the Democrats has increased (from 29 to 32 percent) while the percentage blaming both the GOP and the Democrats equally has increased (from 10 to 13 percent).
Now for the surprise: although the administration needs to place the economic problems squarely at the feet of the GOP and keep it there until the election, it is getting little help from Vice President Joe Biden. In a radio interview yesterday, the Vice President was quite frank and accurate in his assessment:
“Even though 50-some percent of the American people think the economy tanked because of the last administration, that’s not relevant,” said the vice president. “What’s relevant is we’re in charge.”
“Right now, we are the ones in charge, and it’s gotten better but it hasn’t gotten good enough,” Biden told WLRN. “…I don’t blame them for being mad. We’re in charge. So they’re angry.”
Biden said it is “totally legitimate” for the 2012 presidential election to be “a referendum on Obama and Biden and the nature and state of the economy.” He said Americans will need to make a choice between what the Obama administration is offering to address the problem and what is being offered by the eventual Republican nominee.
I can’t imagine that the administration was pleased to hear Joe Biden’s admission of responsibility. Anyone who has read Suskind’s new book Confidence Men can get some useful insights as to the lack of clarity and the internal disarray surrounding economic policy within the Obama White House. But Republicans should not be overjoyed at the Vice President’s moment of clarity. If he is correct, the 2012 election will hinge on whether the Republican nominee has anything of substance to say on how best to promote recovery. Beyond a critique of Obamanomics and few well worn statements about taxes and regulations, has anyone heard anything rising to the level of a credible alternative?