Assessing the White House's Fight Over the Economy

The politics of recovery

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The politics of the ongoing economic recovery are almost as complicated as the recovery itself. Both parties know that the economy will play a central role in the upcoming November elections. We've recently observed good economic signs and bad economic signs, but are Democrats succeeding in the political battle? White House senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on ABC's This Week on Sunday to make the case that the White House is in control and has a plan for greater recovery. Are his administration's positions the right ones to ride economy recovery to midterm success?

  • Wrongly 'Pulling Punches'  The New York Times' Paul Krugman writes, "I have no idea what they’re thinking. It would be one thing if polls suggested a tolerable outcome in November, so that playing it safe could possibly make sense as a political strategy. But that’s not the way it is; and it’s hard to see what possible motivation there is for pulling punches. Going for your opponent’s capillaries when you yourself are bleeding heavily?"
  • Pursue Unpopular Policies That Help the Economy  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein makes the case that the White House should focus on improving the economy even if it means taking unpopular policies. "We think of campaigns in terms of people, but they're often decided by circumstances," primarily the economy. "Should the White House focus on polls or paychecks? The answers were unequivocal."
  • Wrong to 'Back Off' More Stimulus  Liberal blogger Duncan "Atrios" Black is "confused" about why the White House is taking the second option. "So let's say Obama's people have correctly deduced that there's no chance in hell of getting anything through Congress. They have two basic options. First, they could get on the teevee every day and say, 'This is my plan to help. Republicans in Congress won't pass it.' They could hold rallies in Maine. Allies could run ads. At least people would know who is for and who is against...and just what it was that people are for or against. Option two is back off proposals you've previously made and have Axelrod get on the teevee and say, 'there is some argument for additional spending in the short-run to continue to generate economic activity.'"
  • Dems Should Pick a Losing Fight on More Stimulus  The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen urges, "Yes, Republicans will block any measure intended to improve the economy, and it's largely too late for a new stimulus effort to boost the economy before November. But it's still worth having the fight -- force the GOP to stand in the way of job creation, and show the public that Democrats are prepared to fight to improve on an unsatisfactory status quo."
  • Is Obama Focusing on 2012?  Liberal blogger Digby is exasperated. "I'm inclined to think the White House believes they've already lost the congress so they are cutting their losses and looking ahead two years. And that means they would very much like to take a sharp turn to the right, particularly with talk of deficits and spending, in anticipation of the predictable Village narrative that they lost because they were too liberal."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.