Despite the good news this week about Osama bin Laden’s demise, all is not rosy for President Barack Obama — at least in the eyes of the American people. The approval of his handling of the economy hit an all-time low with only 34 percent of Americans giving him a thumbs up, according to a CBS/New York Times poll.

Looking for a reason why? According to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, unemployment rose from 8.8 percent to 9 percent in April. And though the U.S. economy added 244,000 jobs, beating expectations, the bad news is that when the bar for success is set so low, even increasing unemployment and decent job growth can seem like a silver lining on a dark and stormy cloud. Or if you want another metaphor, try “lipstick on a pig.”

There are other storm clouds in America’s economic picture. New claims for jobless benefits shot through the roof to 474,000 last week, increasing by 43,000, according to a Labor Department report. That’s its highest point since last summer. For the fourth month in a row, labor force participation rate remained flat and jobs are still difficult to find. Meanwhile, gas prices are topping out at $4 per gallon. All in all, the American people sensed what the statistics would show: The U.S. economy continues to drag, and they know full well whom and what is to blame — President Obama and his failed stimulus economic policies.

Just over two years ago, the president launched his much-vaunted stimulus and said his plan would create 3.3 million net jobs by 2010. It didn’t happen, and the American people have been stuck with an unemployment rate hovering around nine percent, not to mention the cost of a $787 billion stimulus that has been much less than stimulating. The Heritage Foundation’s JD Foster explains:

At best, stimulus efforts based on government spending and tax cuts with little or no incentive effects have done no harm. At best. It is quite possible most of these efforts over the past couple of years have slowed the recovery while adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt.

Now America is saddled with the price tag and calls by the president to increase the debt ceiling past its $14.3 trillion mark — all so the spending parade can continue. In reality, it’s the spending that’s the problem. To pay for it, the president has proposed tax increases that will only slow growth as the economy is struggling to recover. Heritage’s Curtis Dubay writes:

These enormous tax hikes will slow down economic growth because they will transfer resources from the productive hands of the private sector to the wasteful hands of Congress, raise energy prices, and reduce incentives to work, save, and invest.

Rather than helping the economy get on its feet by tearing off the bonds that are hampering its growth, President Obama has added new loads to drag it down. Regulations, uncertainty and bad tax policy are holding back growth, and now — as the United States nears the debt limit — it’s staring down even more spending that will only make matters worse.

The American people know the real problem behind the economic mess. It’s the spending. And no amount of makeup will make the president’s economic pig look better than it really is.

QUICK HITS

Documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound revealed new intelligence on terrorist plots, including a plan to attack a U.S. commuter rail network on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Five Republicans presidential candidates participated in the first GOP primary debate in South Carolina last night, with foreign policy dominating the discussion.

Thousands of protesters rallied in Syria today calling for an end to President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Record-breaking floods along the Mississippi River are forcing evacuations near Memphis. The flooding has stretched south from Canada and is soon expected to hit the mouth of the Mississippi.

This Sunday, Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at The Heritage Foundation. Read why a mother’s love is so important on Foundry.org.

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