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It's the economy...

As we enter the sometimes spooky month of October, writes CNBC's Patti Domm, market watchers will be focusing on a heavy menu of data and Federal Reserve speakers this week.  One highlight will be a mid-day address in Washington on Wednesday by Fed chief Ben Bernanke, who will do Q&A.  Fed vice chair Donald Kohn also will speak that night about the economic outlook.  As the market continues to struggle with a Dow record, manufacturing data will set the tone today.  Trading volume should be light.  Auto sales are reported on Tuesday and chain stores will report sales on Thursday, giving us a good look at the strength (and tastes) of the consumer in September, Domm says. 

The question of whether the economy will have a hard or soft landing remains at the forefront as we look toward the September jobs report on Friday.  President Bush will be visiting a FedEx sorting facility that day, and since FedEx is a bellwether for the economy, we can guess what the message will be.  Bush's tour will be followed by a roundtable on job growth.

The Wall Street Journal looks at the risks for Democrats in playing up the wage gap and blaming Bush and congressional Republicans.  "It's a risky bet.  Government data do show an unambiguous trend toward a widening gap between the rich and everyone else, a trend that pre-dates Mr. Bush's election in 2000.  And yet U.S. electoral history is littered with Democrats who tried to use the inequality issue only to find voters unswayed and Republicans accusing them of 'class warfare' or business-bashing." 

On the Journal's op-ed page, Bush's former and current top economic advisors seek to reassure Americans about the wage gap. 

USA Today reports on a new nonpartisan study showing that "Americans of every income have benefited from a drop in federal income tax rates as Bush administration tax cuts enacted since 2000 took effect...  But those earning $75,000 to $500,000 are shouldering a larger share of total taxes paid as millions more of them earn higher incomes and get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax."