Good News on the Economy
But can the bulls help Obama?
3:00 PM, Apr 12, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
We're beginning to see the outlines of an economic recovery. The recession may not be officially over, but GDP has been growing, stocks are up, and the economy is beginning to create jobs. Robert Samuelson:
Part of the reason is that while the news may be good, it's not really good. Burrow into the March job numbers, and your smile begins to fade -- we need 100,000 jobs a month to keep pace with population growth (we got 162,000), and much of the March hiring was due to the Census Bureau. The financial sector is still a mess. So is housing. The price of oil is increasing. Households and governments are saddled with debt. Tax rates and interest rates are going to go up. Just to ruin your day, Kevin Drum runs through some other worrisome things here.
So it's a mixed bag. But I think we can still say, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that the prosperity engine that is the American economy is beginning to hum. After all, the natural tendency of economies is to grow, and as we move farther away from the crash that tendency will become more pronounced.
Democrats believe that once the economy returns to normalcy the Tea Party will disappear and Obama's approval rating will climb. They're wrong, because while the economy contributes to Obama's unpopularity, it doesn't explain everything. The Tea Party isn't primarily motivated by unemployment and lackluster GDP growth. It's motivated by tax hikes and government spending and public debt and regulatory overreach and the sense that nobody pays attention to the Constitution anymore. None of those issues is going to disappear once the economy comes back (though debt may be less of an issue if we experience fantastic growth and the government suddenly is flush with cash). Nor is health care reform going anywhere. The public hasn't changed its opinion of the bill now that it's law, and Obama's position has actually eroded since health care's passage.