Donald Lambro | For Barack Obama, 2014 could hardly have been worse

There is no way to sugarcoat the past year. It has been, with rare exceptions, one of our nation’s worst in many years.

In the areas of greatest concern, things have grown a lot worse for those among the bottom half of the income scale in a still-uneven, job-challenged economy across most of the nation.

A Gallup poll reported this week that only 23 percent of Americans surveyed each month “were satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.”

That number has fallen precipitously to “the lower end of what Gallup has measured since 1979,” the polling firm said. That was when America was scraping bottom under Jimmy Carter, surely one of our worst presidents, at least until Barack Obama came along to redefine what “worst” really feels like.

In December 2008, polling by CNN-Opinion Research Corp. found that more than 75 percent of the people they surveyed said President Obama “can manage the government effectively.” Fast-forward to earlier this year when only 43 percent would say that.

For the past six years, the No. 1 issue in the country has been the economy and jobs, and that’s unlikely to change in Mr. Obama’s final two years. That’s even though his Commerce Department reported this week that the economy grew by 5 percent in the third quarter, up from the government’s earlier estimate of 3.9 percent.

It’s an unexpected revision in the gross domestic product, the broadest measurement of the economic health of the country. The Federal Reserve has predicted that the economy will grow by little more than a tepid 2 percent to 3 percent, which may be closer to the truth once the fourth-quarter numbers are in.

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