The Campaign Spot

The Audacity of Hopeful Economic Rhetoric

I would note that the Obama administration has generally been pretty cautious in describing the performance of the economy since they took over. Their supporters may want to jump up and down and insist the stimulus is already working, but the folks within the White House have, with a few exceptions, recognized that if they insist the economy is improving, and most folks don’t feel it, their credibility will erode quickly.

There are exceptions, however, and when a president sounds too optimistic, you end up with lede paragraphs like this, in the top story on this morning’s Washington Post:

The president and the Federal Reserve chairman voiced cautious optimism yesterday that the economy could be beginning to stabilize. But the economy wasn’t cooperating.

Retail sales dropped sharply in March, the government reported, and wholesale prices fell steeply. Both pieces of data underscore the hard slog the nation faces to emerge from its deep recession and the limitations of more optimistic talk from Washington. The stock market fell 2 percent, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

Meanwhile, the editors at the Post note that Obama continues to insist his big-spending agenda is the way to solve an economic crisis that stems from runaway spending:

It is all the more disappointing, then, when Mr. Obama overstates his case in one crucial area and loses all candor and courage in another. The overstating comes in linking his policy agenda to the economic recovery. The agenda focuses on education, renewable energy and health care. These are all worthy pursuits, areas where we support many of his proposals. But as his admirable summation of recent history made clear, these pursuits have little to do with the economic crisis, and they are not the key to economic recovery.

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