While the forested neighborhood of Southwest Oregon where I live is not seeing much improvement in economic conditions at the moment, some of the nation seems to be.

Just today, a long story crossed my desk headlined “Factories Boom” with an opening sentence that read “The U.S. manufacturing sector is roaring back after the worst recession in generations.” In recent days, other stories announced the opening of a new General Motors plant, banks making more loans, businesses adding to inventories, companies large and small reporting more sales and better profit lines. Even some major mergers which show confidence in things economic.

In short, as you look out across the barren ground caused by the recession of the last couple of years, you’re beginning to see some sprouts of greenery as more and more indicators push to the upside and conditions improve.

One of the best stories of the bunch has been about repayment of the TARP funds; the $245 billion government loans to large banks and other businesses that started under the Bush administration continued by Pres. Obama. To date, some $242 billion has been repaid. Ahead of schedule. And by the time the rest is returned … by the end of this year … there will be a tidy $2 billion or so tacked on as interest to the taxpayers who put up the bucks. Not bad.

Yep, the TARP and stimulus monies seem to have worked. Even General Motors and Chrysler are healthy again.

But you know what you don’t see in all this upbeat news? You don’t see stories cutting the Obama administration any slack! Not one!

Now I know any event as big as the beginning of an economic recovery is the result of a lot of things. Maybe even some things which the administration didn’t have a hand in. But it has been customary in our society to use the words “…on our watch” meaning when something good or bad happens, the guy at the top gets the credit or takes the blame. Presidential careers have lived and died with that two-edged sword since George Washington’s time.

I doubt presidents of either party have undertaken a major task motivated by a desire to take credit … or blame. But it happens. On the blame side, Jimmy Carter was faulted far too much for the American hostage-taking in Iran. On the plus side, Ronald Reagan got far too much credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union. But Carter was run out of office for what happened on his watch while Reagan has been all but beatified for what occurred on his. It happens.

But from Congress to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to banks on Wall Street to coffee shops on Main Street, I’m not hearing anyone credit Barak Obama and his crew for the good economic improvements popping up on our national landscape. And credit there should be.

I think there are two major factors for that. Three if you count the fact that a lot of Republicans in Congress wouldn’t say a kind word about Obama if he could walk across the Potomac. So let’s just stick to the other two.

One is the fact that unemployment numbers aren’t getting much better. Yet. And probably won’t for the foreseeable future. So, rightly or wrongly, blame flows to the top as people continue to feel left out of any improvements.

The other factor is that state legislatures, county commissions and city councils are just now directly feeling the effects of the bad news they’ve been fearing. As the dollar flow is cut from above, they are facing continuing demands while having less to work with. There’ll be more such bad news when Congress finally lives up to it’s responsibility and puts a new budget on the books. When actual numbers are published of the lesser amount of federal funding going to states, counties and cities, there’ll be even more pain. And more blame.

In an economy the size of ours, the ripple affects take some time to be felt through the entire system. Everyone down the line knew more bad news was coming but it took a year or two for the actual numbers to arrive on the local budget doorstep.

So it will be with recovery. While there’s some green grass on the national landscape, the dust is just beginning to blow across the barren local fields. It’ll get worse before it gets better.

Which is why, to my thinking, the administration in the White House is not receiving the plaudits due for such improvements as we are seeing on this president’s “watch.” At street level, there’s still too much pain.

Still, good news there is. Not enough of it to be sure. But good nonetheless. So, from where I sit on the edge of this Oregon forest, for what it’s worth, “thank you.”

Just thought someone in the White House ought to know.

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