Roundtable: Economic policies won't pass before election

(CBS News) A roundtable discussing the economy and politics agreed that the political stalemate in Washington will continue until after the election.

"The day after the election, there will be clarity because the voters will have finally spoken, and the voters will have a direction," John Fund, senior editor of The American Spectator, said on "Face the Nation."

On Election Day, Moody's economist Mark Zandi indicated that the economy is going to play a role.

"I think the economy on Election Day will feel pretty much like it feels today," he said. "If you told me it's eight percent on Election Day, I'd say that sounds right. One perhaps interesting point, it's lower in some of the swing states. So Ohio it's closer to seven percent, Virginia closer to five percent, New Hampshire closer to five percent. Unemployment is eight percent in Florida. So in some of the key swing states, the economy is doing a bit better."

Rana Foroohar, an assistant managing editor for Time magazine, said economic indicators would predict that President Obama should lose because incumbents have been defeated in every election since 1967 when consumer confidence is as low as it is right now. But, she said "we're on the verge of an historic upset."

That statistic "would make you think that Obama has no chance of winning this election. But I think this election is going to hinge on middle class pain. I think that people know that what's happened in the last four years have not been down to Obama's policy; it's about globalization; it's about the rise of technology," she said.

"Frankly, I think the only thing weaker than the economy is Mitt Romney's electoral skills. And I think he hasn't really put himself in a good position for this debate over the middle class," Foroohar added.

However, Fund said that President Obama has a real problem: "His second-term agenda is a mystery. In fact, his own party thinks it's a mystery."

Former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich said to win the election the president should outline his plan "in bold strokes."

"I would recommend very strongly that the president now sketch, in his second term, for Americans, what he would do, kind of in bold strokes, to get the economy moving as it should be moving again toward four percent or five percent unemployment," Reich said.

Conservative columnist Fund said President Obama is doing the opposite of what President Bill Clinton did after Republicans swept to victory in the midterm elections.

Instead of working with Republicans, Fund said, "Obama has fought and fought and fought. The Senate hasn't passed a budget for three years. That is called gridlock. So rather than doing the Clinton approach, he's doing the Obama approach, which is gridlock."

But Reich, who worked in the Clinton administration, rejected Fund's assessment, and said that in the mid-'90s Republicans decided to work with the president - which, he said, current Republicans in Congress have not.

"After 1996, when the Republicans learned they could not follow Newt Gingrich's tactics and kind of 'burn the house down' tactics, they began to cooperate with the president. But it was not until they learned that lesson," Reich said.

"The current group of Republicans has not learned that lesson."

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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