During the boom years of the Bush presidency — remember them? — economic growth was an especially unreliable indicator of how most Americans were doing. The numbers were impressive, but the gains were lopsided, benefiting executives and investors

far more than hourly workers and salaried employees. Because the growth was fueled by reckless lending and borrowing, it created an illusion of wealth.

The strange and painful disconnect was evident again in recent weeks. The government reported that the economy grew at a surprising 3.3% in the second quarter, while productivity (the measure of how much workers accomplish per hour) soared. Unfortunately, those bounces did not mean a rebound in the lives of most Americans. Growth rose, but so did unemployment. Productivity surged, but wages fell. Fixing that disconnect is the central economic challenge for the next president.

Tax cuts are always politically popular. As job generators, however, they are a loser strategy, especially now. The Bush era, with its huge tax cuts, has the worst job-creation record of any post-World War II economic cycle. America needs more jobs and American workers need a raise. Senator Obama should sharpen his promising ideas. Senator McCain has yet to address the economy’s real problems head on. — The New York Times