President Obama’s golf-filled vacation in Martha’s Vineyard neared its close on Friday with more bad news on the economic front, as the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysts revised downward 2nd quarter economic growth of the real gross domestic product, indicating the output of goods and services produced by labor and property in the US grew by an anemic 1.6%, rather than the original estimate of 2.4%.
The announcement came the same week as staggeringly bad news on the housing front – with plummeting home sales – and reports that the four-week moving average of weekly jobless claims is at its highest level since last November. The bad news renewed fears of a double-dip recession.
President Obama was largely invisible to the public, taking in 10 days of R&R in the posh Chilmark section of Martha’s Vineyard. When he re-emerges to the public on Sunday, he will be kicking off a series of high profile events that have little to do with the issue foremost on Americans’ minds: jobs. On Sunday the president will travel to New Orleans to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday he will deliver only his second Oval Office address, discussing the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq. On Wednesday and Thursday, he and his administration will focus on kick-starting peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“We know he needs to be out there to talk about the economy next week,” a White House official told ABC News, acknowledging the need for the president to talk about the issue on the minds of Americans in the midst of a schedule packed with events focused on other priorities. “We haven’t yet figured out the way he’s going to do that.”
The White House is pushing its $30 billion small business lending initiative and other measures to stimulate economic growth, such as the elimination of capital gains taxes for small business investments. But advisers say there is little appetite on Capitol Hill for any new spending programs, and limited time in the congressional calendar, suggesting that they feel there aren't any more major initiatives the administration will push in further attempts to revise the sputtering economy. Voices inside and outside the administration are calling for a host of other remedies including more infrastructure spending and tax cuts.
The continued bad news on the economic front has helped Republicans in public opinion polls as the nation prepares for the mid-term elections. A new Mason-Dixon poll has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a statistical tie with tea party-backed Republican candidate Sharron Angle. Strikingly, in the poll, 47% of Nevadans say President Barack Obama's actions to stabilize the economy have hurt the nation's economic situation. Only 29% say the president’s economic prescriptions have improved matters.