The Corner

Bad Economic Numbers Look Like Bad News for Hillary Clinton

Will the 2016 general election take place in an economic environment of mixed news, or a recession or near-recession? The new numbers out this morning look pretty gloomy:

The U.S. economy stumbled out of the gate in 2016 as consumers and businesses showed renewed signs of caution, underscoring the uneven growth that has been a hallmark of the nearly seven-year expansion.

Gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic output, advanced at a 0.5% seasonally adjusted annualized rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was the worst performance in two years…

“Barring a miracle, it appears that GDP growth is on course for another underwhelming gain of around 2% this year,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Some might argue that this helps Donald Trump, the man who’s been arguing that trade deals and illegal immigration have battered the working class. But it’s not like Ted Cruz is singing the praises of Obama’s economic policies, either. If the economic mood is increasingly glum this summer and fall, that makes the task tougher for Hillary Clinton, the candidate of the incumbent party and status quo.

I still think Bill Clinton wants his wife to run against Obama’s record; you notice these surprisingly regular off-the-cuff statements hinting he thinks Obama has largely failed. He said at one stop, “Millions and millions and millions and millions of people look at that pretty picture of America [Obama] painted and they cannot find themselves in it to save their lives.” Then he said the country needed to “put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us” — later explaining he only meant the GOP opposition of this era. Then at an appearance in Philadelphia, he said, “Unlike when I became president, a lot of things are coming apart around the world now.”