Arianna Huffington: President discovers that if you claim control of the economy, it is up to you to fix it

Thursday 04 November 2010 01:00 GMT

For all the hours of pre-election predictions and post-vote analysis, the 2010 midterms came down to a very simple truth: if unemployment were near double digits come November, Democrats would take a beating.

It is, and they have.

Exit polls found that nearly nine in 10 voters believe the economy is in bad shape. The same percentage feel pessimistic about America's economic future. That's practically everyone!

And while a large majority of voters still believe George Bush is to blame for getting us into this mess, they are holding Obama accountable for not fixing it.

The Pottery Barn rule – "you break it, you own it" – was given a twist on Tuesday night. As it turns out, sometimes even if you weren't the one who broke it, you own it. So it is with America's broken economy. Bush broke it, but Obama, underestimating just how broken it is, owns it.

Indeed, the President laid claim to it back in July 2009 when, during a speech in Michigan, he strayed from his text and said: "I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, 'Well, this is Obama's economy.' That's fine. Give it to me!" Many compared it to Bush's defiant "Bring 'em on!" And like that brash taunt, Obama's has doubled back to kick him in the butt.

He owns an economy that nine out of 10 people are unhappy with. Is it any wonder that they took their ire out on the Democrats?

With the "real unemployment" figures around 17 per cent, it means almost everyone in the country is adversely affected by the economy – or knows someone who is. And they were not going to be mollified by healthcare reform that doesn't kick in until 2014, or financial reform that isn't slowing foreclosures or making borrowing money easier for small businesses. As a result, voters no longer trust Democrats to fix things. Hard to believe, but Collier County in Florida, the county with the biggest unemployment jump in the country from March 2009 to March 2010, voted Republican.

Democrats still have the White House and the Senate. But they had better do something about the economic devastation if they want to win back Collier County – and the trust of the American people.

Arianna Huffington is a columnist and co-founder of The Huffington Post

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