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Cheer Up, Mr. President-elect

Jonathan Chait raises the issue of whether President-elect Obama is “fabricating” bad economic news to drum up support for the stimulus plan. Chait concludes that, no, things really are bad.

There is plenty of reason to think Chait is right, starting with Friday’s employment statistics, but there is a danger to all the gloom-and-doom talk. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Especially in a recession predicated on fear and panic, it does no good to have a down-in-the-dumps Prognosticator-in-Chief. I understand he’s trying to lower expectations for his own sake. (What happens to the Democrats if things aren’t better by 2010?) But the risk is that the smoke-and-mirrors stimulus package, if it is to work, must work because consumer and business confidence is improved.

I’d opt for a more FDR or Reagan-type sunny demeanor and cut down on the pensive, furrowed-brow routine. We’re embarking on the great American renewal, right? So let the economists remind us how rotten things are. We don’t need the President-elect for that.



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