Bush's Final Report on the Nation's Struggling Economy: Despite the dismal shape of the economy, the final report to President Bush from his economic advisers takes pains to note that not all is bad. The 2009 Economic Report of the President from the Council of Economic Advisers starts out by stating how "remarkably resilient" the U.S. economy has been over the past eight years and notes that it has "withstood a number of major shocks throughout the period." While acknowledging that the economy "could not shake off" the most recent shocks and that the country has been in a recession since the end of 2007, much good has occurred during the Bush administration. "Despite the risk that recent events may overshadow the many positive developments of the past eight years, there have been major policy advances that have improved the long-term prospects of our economy and strengthened its foundation." The report says that open trade policies and lower tax rates "contributed to economic performance" and that "the administration has pursued market-oriented regulatory reforms that favor individual choice over government decision-making whenever appropriate, and this approach has proven effective in addressing market failures without imposing costs on society or the economy."
Americans Feeling Bad...: In another sign of the toll the economic downturn has taken, American feelings about their well being began to decline in September 2008 after a year of relative stability, a poll has shown. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, described as a "comprehensive measure of the state of Americans' health," declined in 2008 reflecting the "emotional and physical strain the financial crisis has put on society." The poll gauges six areas of well being, life evaluation, healthful behaviors, work environment, physical health, emotional health, and access to basic necessities. The index went from a high of 67 in February to a low of 63.3 percent in December, with each point representing 2.2 million people. The life evaluation index, which rates respondents as thriving, struggling, or suffering, took the biggest hit going from 47.4 percent in February to 33.1 in November. The decline included every demographic group. "To see declines in well being cut across each of these major demographic groups tells a clear story of the severity of the economic crisis of 2008, the negative effects of which appear to have touched almost all Americans," the report notes. To compile the index, Gallup conducted over 360,000 interviews in 2008.
... But Many Have Hope for the Future: The American public has high confidence that Barack Obama can deal with the nation's problems, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The survey, conducted January 7-11 of more than 1,500 people, found that 7 in 10 have a fair amount of confidence that he will do the right thing on the economy, terrorism, and Iraq. Some 79 percent, including 59 percent of Republicans, have a favorable impression of the new president. Shortly before Bush took office, his favorable rating was 60 percent. Obama is also viewed as a uniter. The survey found that, "for the first time in several years, there has been a sharp decline in the proportion of Americans who say the country is more politically divided than in the past. Fewer than half (46 percent) now see the country as more divided, down 20 points from January 2007 (66 percent)." Additionally, 70 percent approve of how Obama has explained his plans for the future and 66 percent approve of his cabinet picks.
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