POLITICS (National): Obama, economy improving, approval rating declining: "Obama's Puzzle: Economy Rarely Better, Approval Rarely Worse"....
* New York Times: "Obama's Puzzle: Economy Rarely Better, Approval Rarely Worse" - From the NYT:
WASHINGTON —will pronounce on the state of the union for the fifth time on Tuesday, and never during his time in office has the state of the economy been better — yet rarely has he gotten such low marks from the public for his handling of it.
Not only have economic indicators shown progress toward pre-recession health, but many forecasters are predicting what one called “a breakout year” for growth. A new study from a Federal Reserve economist even put a more benign spin on a negative trend, the shrinking labor force, by attributing the decline not to discouraged unemployed workers who have quit looking for jobs, but to the first baby-boomer retirements.
Demand for labor is up and the unemployment rate is below 7 percent for the first time since November 2008. Consumers, buoyed by rising home prices and stock values, are spending more; so are businesses. Exports are growing as Europe regains health. The fiscal drag from state and federal spending cuts has abated. And contrary to Republicans’ claims, many forecasters do not see theas “a job-killer.”
Economically speaking, said Scott A. Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, “the state of the union is the best we have seen in years.”
Mr. Obama and his speechwriter could not phrase it better, or simpler. Yet taking credit is complicated, given the clear evidence in national polls that most Americans are not in a mood to give him any.
One of the president’s biggest challenges this year is to change that.......................