Mr. Obama, Pay Attention to Consumers: Economist

It’s the consumer, stupid. That was the message of Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Business(NFIB), who told CNBC Monday that the consumer needs to come back for the economy to improve.

“What we’d like to hear is that the president recognizes what the problem is, the consumer and consumers spending,” Dunkelberg added, when discussing the president's Town Hall Monday at noon on CNBC.

“We know the difficulties they [consumers] had: They came into the recession with the largest debt load relative to income that we’ve seen in a while. Now they are busy deleveraging, fancy term for saving, finally. They are the ones we need to see back out there.

“If they’re not spending, then small businesses have no reason to spend any money or hire and, that’s the issue.”

Dunkelberg said the country needs optimism in general that would extend to consumers and small businesses, both of whom are in a negative mindset about the economy.

He added that he’s happy about small business incentives, including a drop payroll taxes, but said that the NFIB proposed a tax solution in 2008.

“I hear the words payroll tax cut: That’s good,” he said, “but it would have been nice a year and a half, two years ago.”