It's (Almost) Morning in America
Tomasky, Michael, Newsweek
Byline: Michael Tomasky
A surging economy is great news. Especially for the next president.
The day after last Tuesday's debate, as I was monitoring the Twitter feed for the post-debate debate, some news flashed across the screen that elicited more than one tweeted, all-cap, "WHOA!" Housing starts in September surged to their fastest pace in four years, up 15 percent over August, far exceeding the experts' predictions. In the diurnal bickerfest over Candy Crowley and Benghazi, liberals and conservatives agreed that this was impressive stuff.
It's not the only recent good tiding. We all know about the 7.8 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in four years. OK, conservatives, cavil if you wish. But it's the unemployment rate we have, and to most normal people cheering for America, it's welcome news. Weekly jobless claims in the week after the unemployment rate was announced were far lower than expected. And then came the announcement that consumer confidence is at a five-year high.
There's more: the Federal Reserve is now seemingly committed to low interest rates and fiscal stimulus well into the future, and some Fed officials have even spoken (no!) of letting inflation get above 2 percent if that's what it takes to bring unemployment down further. In its mid-October unemployment report, Gallup, which surveyed 30,000 households, found that the jobless rate was heading in that happy direction, indicating perhaps that the September number was not a fluke.
Is the economy finally turning the corner? Could it--sort of, maybe, almost--be Morning in America again?
I don't know. Economists barely know, and they're the experts. But one thing is already clear: even the appearance of a strong economic rebound taking shape during the final weeks of the campaign could have enormous consequences on the outcome--and on what follows it.
The plan, or more accurately the hope, among Democrats coming into 2012 was that the economy would rebound by the summer--June or July, say--giving voters plenty of time to see that the sunny side was up and adjust their views accordingly. Job-creation numbers came in sky-high in January and February. But March was so-so (143,000), and April was cruel (68,000).
As their plan collapsed in the face of economic realities, the Obama people conditioned themselves to having to run in a crap economy. …