[[E C O N O M Y]] * Economic pessimism is evidently skyrocketing in the United States. A week and a half after George W. Bush proclaimed, in a prime-time TV address, that the federal government would pony up as much as $200 billion to pay for rebuilding Gulf Coast infrastructure and helping families decimated by Hurricane Katrina to rebuild their lives--largesse that even some conservatives decried as fiscally foolhardy, consumer confidence has tanked. The Conference Board, an independent economic research organization, reports an 18.9-percent drop this month in U.S. consumer confidence--the biggest such fall in 15 years.
Meanwhile, a new poll released by the liberal-friendly Democracy Corps shows that the American electorate has “lost confidence in President Bush’s leadership, direction and plans for the country, and seems to have closed down on him and his conservative project. His job approval continues downward, and 45 percent of voters say they are ‘finished with him.’” Sixty-one percent of respondents say the United States is “headed in the wrong direction,” while 33 percent say the opposite. Fifty-three percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing, while only 43 percent approve. Fifty-seven percent say the prez doesn’t have “good ideas for addressing the country’s problems,” and 60 percent say he isn’t making progress on the issues they most care about. Sixty-three percent disagree with Bush’s handling of the federal budget, and 57 percent disagree with his handling of the Iraq war.