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Opinion: Columnists

Morning Examiner: 'Doing fine’ will define Obama

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Columnists

There is little question that President Obama’s Friday press conference did major damage to his reelection effort. In case you have been on another planet, Obama was asked to defend his economic record, without blaming Europe, and he responded, “The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine.”

Within minutes, the Republican National Committee had a video up using the president’s quote in a carbon copy version of the ad Obama using Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., September 2008 quote,”the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” And within hours Obama tried to walk back his gaffe, telling the press at a photo-op later in the day, “It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.”

But yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, Obama adviser David Axelrod seemed far less willing to say flatly that the private sector is not doing fine. Asked if he agreed with Obama’s “doing fine” assessment, Axelrod made the case for more government spending: “Candy, the press conference was called to press for hiring … to push — to give state and local governments help to rehire some of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police who have been laid off in this — in this last couple of years.”

Pressed again to state whether he thought the private sector was doing fine, Axelrod said: “The private sector, we need to accelerate job creation in the private sector. … One of the ways that is we can do that is putting teachers and firefighters and police back to work because those are good middle class jobs.” To which Crowley responded, “That’s the public sector.” Axelrod shot back, “But that will help accelerate the recovery.”

And that is why Obama’s “the private sector is doing fine” comment will stick: because he believes it. The Obama administration truly believes that the private sector is doing just fine and all the economy needs is a bit more Keynesian government spending on government employees to get demand going again. That’s their plan.

Tax reform, cutting regulation, ending the uncertainty of Obamacare and Taxmageddon … none of these problems are on the Obama administration’s radar. They are simply incapable of seeing how government is still strangling private sector economic growth. This will be THE issue going forward in this election.

Campaign 2012
Obama: The Obama campaign is attacking Romney for saying that, “It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people,” after he first mentioned we do not need “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.”

Around the Bigs:
The Los Angeles Times, Commerce Secretary John Bryson accused in hit-and-run crashes: Authorities are investigating a series of traffic collisions in the San Gabriel Valley involving U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, authorities said Saturday. Bryson was found unconscious in his vehicle and has been hospitalized, officials said.

The Washington Post, In Spain’s bailout request, Greece’s crisis played key role: Spain was forced to seek a bailout this weekend, becoming by far the largest country to need help during Europe’s  economic crisis. But it was tiny Greece that pushed Spain over the brink.

The Wall Street Journal, Spain’s Handling of Bankia Repeats a Pattern of Denial: Spain is in this predicament because its banks made real-estate loans that went bad, but that is not the whole story. Spain also made a series of miscalculations in responding to its banking crisis. Government and industry officials repeatedly chose temporary fixes instead of major surgery in dealing with the country’s banks, betting that economic conditions would improve.

USA Today, Spain hampered by rigid labor laws: The banks’ problems are losses in a real estate crash, but Spain’s job woes are due largely to labor laws that protect older workers at the expense of younger ones, business experts say. Things won’t change until Spain fixes the problem, economists say.

The New York Times, Hospitals Aren’t Waiting for Verdict on Health Care Law: Even if Obamacare is overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed after the next election, the economic pressure on hospitals to care differently for more people at lower cost is irreversible.

The Los Angeles Times, Environmental objections in path of bullet train: The California bullet train is promoted as an important environmental investment for the future, but over the next decade the heavy construction project would potentially harm air quality, aquatic life and endangered species across the Central Valley.

Righty Playbook
At CNN, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Obama is responsible for the recent national security leaks, and that Attorney General Eric Holder has no credibility to investigate the matter.

Hot Air‘s Jazz Shaw catches Karl rove pushing wind subsidies in Atlanta.

The Washington Examiner‘s Michael Barone details the GOP’s good Tuesday in California.

Lefty Playbook
The Washington Post‘s E.J. Dionne urges Democrats to embrace the argument that government creates jobs.

At The New York Times, Harvard doctoral candidate Seth Stephens-Davidowitz argues that racism cost Obama as much as 5 percent of the national vote in 2008.

Talking Points Memo‘s Brian Beutler posts a chart purporting to show that the private sector is doing fine.

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