When President Obama delivers his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, he'll have to deal with a grim political reality: Although polls show Americans overwhelmingly like him -- 83 percent in the latest Associated Press-GfK poll -- more than half disapprove of the way he's handled the economy.
They have reason to be disappointed. Although the recession is over, unemployment endures. Florida started 2010 with a 12-percent jobless rate and ended the year at the same level. Meanwhile, the housing market remains weak and increasing budget deficits raise fears that the national debt will become completely unmanageable.
Mr. Obama's task is to give a balanced accounting of his economic recovery efforts, which should acknowledge that he only belatedly recognized the depth of the economic downfall and thus failed to make jobs creation a top priority at the beginning of his presidency.
What Americans need to hear is how he plans to put the jobless back to work and his plan to revive the housing market.
Yet any fair accounting of his economic stewardship should also highlight the successes, along with the failures.
Saving the American auto industry, which had been driven into a ditch by decades-long bad management practices, counts as a major victory. The federal government played a pivotal role in the comeback of the GM car company and helped to put Chrysler on a path to recovery. GM earned about $2 billion in the third quarter, allowing the government to reduce its stake to 35 percent.
The bailout began in late 2008, before Mr. Obama became president, but he rightly continued pumping money into the industry after he reached the White House. He also deserves credit for the tough love that forced the resignation of former GM CEO Rick Wagoner and his replacement with a new team.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.