As President Obama prepares to deliver his first state of the union speech this week, there is only one thing he needs to do -- persuade Americans that he can create new jobs.
Little else matters. Obama can yammer on all he wants about punishing bankers and vilifying fat cat lobbyists who threaten his health care agenda, but what America really needs is an economic recovery that puts the 15 million unemployed Americans back to work and gives the additional millions of Americans who've dropped out of the workforce a reason to try again.
So far, the employment numbers keep going down, and so do Obama's approval ratings.
The U.S. lost 85,000 more jobs in December and just today Wal-Mart (WMT Quote) said it will shed about 11,200 jobs at its Sam's Club warehouse, primarily by outsourcing in-store demonstrations to a marketing company.
Meanwhile, 53% of respondents disapprove and 41% strongly disapprove of Obama's job performance in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for today.
Now, just like a year ago, the public's priorities for Obama and Congress are to shore up the economy, rev up the job creation engine and defend us from terrorists, according to a recent Pew poll.
Nothing else comes close, not even health care or financial regulation.
The bottom line is that beating up on Bank of America (BAC Quote), Goldman Sachs (GS Quote) or Citigroup (C Quote) won't score as many points with the public as hunkering down on some good old-fashioned economic packages.
Job creation is the surest indicator of whether economic improvements are underway, and so far we're not seeing the results.
This post has been republished from The Street.