Tempering this morning's stronger-than-expected jobs report is a new CNN survey showing more-than 80% of Americans believe the economy is in poor shape.
Not surprisingly, 38% of respondents cited unemployment as the most important economic issue, followed by the deficit (28%), rising gas prices (21%), housing (6%) and taxes (4%).
On the surface, the survey bodes ill for President Obama and other incumbents seeking reelection in 2012. With gas prices surging, the President's approval numbers had been sinking in the weeks prior to the death of Osama bin Laden last Sunday.
But inside the survey, which was conducted prior to bin Laden's death and Friday's jobs data, is a hopeful sign for President Obama and his party: 55% of Americans say former President George W. Bush and the Republicans are more responsible for the poor economy while just 33% point the finger at the man currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
In the accompanying video, Henry and I discuss whether it's fair to blame Bush for today's punk economy with our Breakout colleagues, Matt Nesto and Jeff Macke.
Henry, for one, thinks it is fair and says it's "a credit to Americans they're looking back a couple of years and saying 'look where the trend started'."
Balderdash, says Macke who believes "blaming Aaron Burr for capping Alexander Hamilton is just as credible as blaming Bush."
Personally, I believe the survey is further evidence of the power of staying on message: For two years Obama has consistently declared that he "inherited a mess". That it happens to be true is less important from a political perspective than the fact a majority of Americans seem to have absorbed the message.
Where the four of us found agreement, however, is about what Matt called the "cowardliness in Washington" and the failure of elected officials to come together on long-term deficit reform, which nearly every non-partisan observer says will require some combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.