Friday, February 03, 2012

So Much for Economic Pessimism?

It’s hard not to be heartened by today’s news that the U.S. unemployment rate has tumbled to 8.3 percent, the lowest it has been since February 2009. Economists had previously forecast that the jobless rate would remain at 8.5 percent.

“After years of jobs reports that were only considered encouraging when compared to where we’ve been, January’s totals is objectively good news,” writes Steve Benen, now with The Maddow Blog. “Indeed, this is one of the best--if not the very best--jobs reports since the recession began four years ago.”

On the other hand, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney probably isn’t as thrilled as the rest of us, for as The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein notes: “The bottom line is that this isn’t just a good jobs report. It’s a recovery jobs report. It’s showing the sort of numbers that win elections.”

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait has more to say about Robot Romney’s latest dilemma:
The biggest victim of today’s blowout jobs report--aside from the millions of Americans who still lack jobs, of course--is Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Romney has rested his entire case for election on the sluggish economy. ... Romney’s campaign seems to have been stunned into silence, taking an unusually long time to come up with any reaction at all. But I think going all-in on economic pessimism remains Romney’s strongest chance.

Romney has been claiming that President Obama’s policies have “made the economy worse.” Journalism fact-checkers are pummeling him for it, pointing out that the economy is not actually doing worse than when Obama took office. That’s true, but, as so often occurs, the fact-checkers are being annoyingly overliteral in their interpretation of his words. Romney isn’t necessarily saying that the economy is worse, merely that Obama’s policies worsened the economy--that is, that the economy would have recovered more strongly in the absence of his intervention. Now, I find that claim ridiculous, as would pretty much the entire macroeconomic forecasting field. But it’s not a
provably false statement.

In any case, it's all Romney has. Obama remains personally well-liked. Romney is personally unpopular. The Republican Party is extremely unpopular. Obama has had no major scandals, and his foreign policy has been highly successful to date... He simply has to keep plugging away at his theme, because his only real winning scenario involves winning on the back of a bad economy.
You’ll find all of Chait’s post here.

READ MORE:Faced with Good News About Economy, Romney Dissolves into Incoherence,” by Greg Sargent (The Washington Post); “Obama Uses Unemployment Drop to Take Down Boehner and the GOP,” by Jason Easley (PoliticusUSA); “Romney vs. Romney vs. Reality,” by Steve Benen (The Maddow Blog); “Wow. But Is the Number Real?,” by Floyd Norris (The New York Times); “Jobs-Elections Connection Coming into Focus,” by J. P. Green (The Democratic Strategist); “When a Candidate Bets Against the Economy,” by Steve Kornacki (Salon).

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