The United States economy ended the year by adding 103,000 jobs in December and with a lower unemployment rate, the Labor Department said Friday, but as thousands of Americans gave up looking for work, the numbers suggested that joblessness could continue to weigh on the recovery. The unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent last month from 9.8 percent, its lowest rate since July 2009, the department said in its monthly report. But the figures also showed that the civilian labor force declined by 260,000 in December, as many Americans stopped applying for jobs. – U.S. Added 103,000 Jobs Last Month

The good news is that Pres. Obama is ticking up in approval, however Gallup reports that a small majority (46% to 40%) want to repeal health care. The bad news is that it’s been down hill for the Democratic Party since 2008, with every year since Pres. Obama was elected, showing a decline in Democratic party identification culminating in the worst numbers in 22 years. Question is whether the identification matters to Democrats as long as Pres. Obama’s chances of getting a second term improve.

From Gallup:

In 2010, 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, down five percentage points from just two years ago and tied for the lowest annual average Gallup has measured in the last 22 years. While Democrats still outnumber Republicans by two points, the percentage identifying as independents increased to 38%, on the high end of what Gallup has measured in the last two decades.

Segue to the jobs number with the unemployment rate falling, though it’s unfortunately coupled with the reality that some Americans just gave up looking for jobs.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans remain below Democrats, with not much excitement on i.d., except for the Tea Party contingent, which was the only energy in the midterms, saving Republicans from themselves.

However, under Pres. Obama, OFA and Tim Kaine’s DNC, not only has there been no allegiance to Democratic Party messaging and values, it’s very hard to tell what Democrats stand for today, except compromise, capitulation and making deals with conservatives like extending the Bush tax cuts, all of which has taken Democrats to the right, but after midterms, also the country.

So, is anyone surprised that in the last 22 years there has never been a lower number of people who choose to identify with the Democratic Party? Nobody’s looking out for the working class, let alone the poor.

Obama’s signature legislative compromise on health care has yielded details coming due that won’t help him going forward. For one, and as Howard Dean and many of us predicted, the individual mandate continues to be a loser and energy for killing it is building, with Dems in trouble for ’12 supporting this action. Additionally, Blue Shield’s latest move in California is a stunner that will simply fuel conservatives’ marketing on their repeal efforts (even if they ultimately fail and have to settle for starving the program), with the new Speaker very likely to be a more formidable foe than originally anticipated. From the LA Times:

Another big California health insurer has stunned individual policyholders with huge rate increases ““ this time it’s Blue Shield of California seeking cumulative hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers March 1. … San Francisco-based Blue Shield said the increases were the result of fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws.

However, all the capitulation has given Pres. Obama a 50% approval, because it’s easy to be liked when you’re not standing up and making waves. The new approval something the President hasn’t enjoyed in quite a while. The news of Bill Daley taking over as chief of staff will also push Wall Street to give the President another chance.

Meanwhile, the Democratic activist base and voters who believe in their message have never been more in the cold. Obama continuing to bet they’ll come home after seeing the alternative.

As things stand today, the Obama White House has absolutely no clue how to inspire economic growth or isn’t interested in economic fundamentals like trade policy and investments, with the Tea Party crowd and conservatives now in charge. Budget cuts and spending caps are fine, but as the party of no ideas, the Republicans, meets President Obama who hasn’t a plan, scapegoats for our economic ills abound. With the additions of Daley, but also Clinton consigliere Gene Sperling, hopes are that this will change, however, it will be with a twist for Democrats.

First Obama came for the federal unions, now Cuomo is coming after state workers, the chirpy call for more tax cuts the Democratic mantra. “Morning Joe” is now a cacophony of caterwauling about “rich” union employees. Ironic from a group who touted tax cuts for the rich as the answer. Even Joe Scarborough is ranting about “irresponsible” police unions in Newark, as Democratic Mayor Cory Booker asks them to suck up cuts. They’re risking their lives while the wealthiest get a tax cut, but Mr. Scarborough, who’s a nice, well meaning guy (I’ve had enough one-on-one exchanges to know this first hand) not only wants to demagogue cops, but calls them “irresponsible.” The economic confusion on “Morning Joe” is like watching a squirrel chase. The targeting of unions now the in thing to do on both sides of the aisle.

Want to bet that Obama and Republicans, with Daley’s help, come to a compromise on education?

Meanwhile, it was the best year ever for the Wall Street fat cats in 2010, the same people Pres. Obama and Democrats in both Houses handed tax cuts, while leaving the “99ers” out in the cold, some likely literally.

But that’s okay, because the Democratic Party isn’t Tim Kaine or Obama Inc.’s concern. They’re targeting Independents, Obama’s new base.

Pres. Obama is looking stronger as his reelection team gears up, no matter how tattered the Democratic Party is on purpose and principles.

Ambition and political ego knows no bounds, with the presidency the ultimate political prize that must be kept at all cost. There are simply too many think tanks, foundations and organizations sucking on this teat. Feeding the frenzy is Obama Inc., a political organization without a core ideological compass that never met a principle it wouldn’t compromise to win, something the Democratic Party idealists and activists have now seen first hand.

Hey, but if you’re not in power you can’t implement your policy priorities, right? The problem is that even when Pres. Obama had a full majority his first instinct was to make a conservative compromise without ever fighting for the ultimate before making a deal on the possible. It may keep Obama in power, but so far it’s done squat for the Democratic Party.

If it gives Pres. Obama a better chance at a second term, as the old saying goes, it will, however, be mission accomplished.