The state of the economy is the principal preoccupation of most Americans - more than the winding down of the Iraq war, the pursuit of the Afghanistan war, or the prospects of Republicans and Democrats in the midterm elections.
That makes sense. Too many people are unemployed or underemployed, or have given up on finding a job.
Many of us know someone who is in a financial mess, whether an employment issue, a mortgage default, or a home foreclosure. The misery and fear are automatically communicated, even without words.
A worrisome part of the problem is that the government doesn't seem to know what to do to end the suffering. Some Americans believe President Obama does not express his emotions on the subject visibly enough. But given his background, intelligence, and political sense, does anyone really imagine he does not understand how Americans hurt?
Congressional Republicans aren't helping. They insist that President George W. Bush bears no responsibility for the state of the economy - that his tax cuts for the rich, two wars fought on borrowed money, and his lax approach to financial regulation had nothing to do with it.
The GOP's resistance to virtually any measure President Obama proposes to help the economy - most recently a stalled bill designed to help small businesses - suggests a lack of sensitivity to Americans' needs.
To emerge from its recession, Germany found a middle path, somewhere between government intervention and a call for greater productivity. Australia's small budget deficit, the opposite of America's giant deficit and soaring debt, enabled it to avoid the quicksand. India, by whatever means, showed unbelievable 8.8 percent growth in the year's second quarter.
America is still looking for a solution. Perhaps after the fall election madness, Congress will address the fundamental problem. It is hard to imagine that anyone who is running for office this year could not get the message.