President Barack Obama's first two years in office look strikingly similar to Ronald Reagan's, says Dan Balz in The Washington Post. Both men inherited a deeply troubled U.S. economy. Both "offered big and bold plans" — Reagan, "massive tax cuts;" Obama, stimulus spending and national health-care reform — that set the country on a new path. And both faced "low approval ratings and an adverse midterm election." Unfortunately for Obama, that's where the comparison may end. While Reagan rode a reinvigorated economy to a "huge reelection victory," current financial indicators would have to make a miraculous turnaround before Obama can "feel confident about the road ahead." An excerpt:
For much of this year, Obama and his team have taken some solace from the fact that Reagan's approval ratings were even lower at comparable points in his presidency. That is no longer the case. In the past week, Obama has hit a new low in his approval rating, according to Gallup's daily tracking. It now stands at 42 percent, virtually identical to Reagan's in August 1982. (Both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter dipped below 40 percent during their second year in office.)
Republicans suffered significant losses in the House in Reagan's first midterm election, giving Democrats an even larger majority. Most Democrats are braced for a similarly bad night this November.
Whatever the outcome in November, and whatever interpretation is placed on the results, the real question for Obama is what happens to the economy afterward...