This week's unexpectedly high unemployment figures emphasize the importance of the economy in the upcoming presidential race.
Sen. John McCain's toughest hurdle is convincing voters he can steer the economy toward recovery. Voters trust Democrats to right the economy to a much greater extent at this point than they trust Republicans. And with good reason: No president in recent history as done as much economic damage as President Bush, with wanton spending, huge tax cuts, and little regard for record deficits.
According to a recent Rasmussen poll:
Those who name economic issues as their top concern favor [Sen. Barack] Obama over McCain by a 59% to 33% margin. However, those who focus on national security issue favor McCain 61% to 35%.
Is voters' trust well placed with a Democratic candidate whose résumé is short on legislative substance?
Both Obama and McCain have made mountains of promises and issued forests of white papers about their plans for the economy.
McCain proposes "a middle-class tax cut...by doubling the personal tax exemption for dependents to $7,000." He also wants to retain the Bush tax cuts for the upper-middle and upper classes and to cut the corporate tax rate.
Obama places greater emphasis on resolving the home mortgage crisis by passing a $30 billion economic stimulus plan for homeowners. He wants massive government reform to prevent future housing crises and a 10 percent mortgage tax credit for middle-class Americans.
Promises are one thing and easily made. McCain has admitted economic issues are not his strong suit. Obama has little by way of a record on any issue, much less the economy. Americans should be watching for proof the candidates can deliver on their promises. So far, there's little of that.