Seeking more from Obama

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Frank Rich looks at the election results Tuesday and joins the list who thinks it says more about what President Obama has failed to do, rather than what he has done. He enjoys the teabaggers' defeat in upstate New York, but thinks it will be good for the Republicans if they get the message that the party needs a broader outlook.

The system is going back to the way it was with a vengeance, against a backdrop of despair. As the unemployment rate crossed the 10 percent threshold at week’s end, we learned that bankers were helping themselves not just to bonuses as large as those at the bubble’s peak but to early allotments of H1N1 vaccine. No wonder 62 percent of those polled by Hart Associates in late September felt that “large banks” had been helped “a lot” or “a fair amount” by “government economic policies,” but only 13 percent felt the “average working person” had been. Unemployment ranked ahead of the deficit and health care as the No. 1 pocketbook issue in the survey, with 81 percent saying the Obama administration must take more action.

The tea party Republicans vanquished on Tuesday have no jobs plan. They just want to eliminate all Washington spending — a prescription that didn’t go down too well in New York’s 23rd, where the federal government has the largest payroll. The G.O.P. establishment’s one-size-fits-all panacea is tax cuts — thin gruel for those with little or no taxable income. The administration’s answer is the stimulus, whose iffy results so far, it argues, can’t be judged this early on.

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