Recovery Lag Time, Political Time Bomb

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The economy is getting better. This is a fact. Just 25 percent of the American people believe that the economy is getting better. This is also a fact. Here’s where it gets complicated: These two facts are not contradictory. One can have a recovering economy that fails, at least initially, to bring meaningful improvement to the lives of most Americans.

Meghan Barr of the Associated Press gets to the heart of the matter today in a story you should read, if only because this dynamic is likely to explain the poll results in this fall’s midterm elections. Barr begins her story this way:

TWINSBURG, Ohio – The clerk at the candy shop does not want to cry. She is determinedly cheerful, a professional smiler, dressed head to toe in bright turquoise. But standing next to a display of plastic-wrapped candles and teddy bears, her face crumples at the most basic of questions: Are you doing OK?

“I’m sorry,” she says, wiping her eyes with a shirt sleeve, her voice a shaky whisper. “Because at the end of the month, there’s nothing left. I don’t know what to say. It’s almost getting to the point where I don’t know what we’re going to do anymore.”

For four years now, Julie Bittner has rung up customers in this little store on the charming grassy square at the heart of Twinsburg, Ohio. And from her view by the front window, she has watched the fortunes of a ransacked autoworkers’ mecca slowly drain away. Streets once teeming with people are now deserted. Some days, she says, not a soul comes through the door.

She’s seen the headlines. The recession is ending! Unemployment is stabilizing! From Wall Street to Washington, the message comes: America, the worst is over. Let the spending begin. But in places like Twinsburg — where for so many the misery goes on, unabated — people aren’t buying the rhetoric. If brighter days are ahead, they say, they’re still awaiting the dawn.

Read the whole story here.