And whoever occupies the presidency from 2013-2017 will get the credit. Or so Ezra Klein apparently is arguing in the Washington Post. Klein writes that Obama isn’t FDR, because FDR took office three years into the Great Depression while Obama took office at the peak of the current recession. And he isn’t Hoover, because a majority of Americans, according to an AP poll, still blame Bush for the mess we are in. But whoever is elected next could be FDR, and with that set the stage for a long period of their respective party’s dominance:
As Larry Bartels, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, has written, globally, the pattern is clear: Whichever party was in power when the Great Depression hit was booted out of office, and whichever party was in power when the global recovery took hold reaped huge political benefits.
This happened in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, and Sweden, for example. The same should be true for this recovery. If it happens under Obama, the Keynesian approach will be credited and Democrats will see significant and lasting gains at all levels of governance. If it happens under a Romney or Perry presidency, their plans will be vindicated and receive the following that Reagan’s supply side economics has enjoyed since his first term.
And, Klein argues, “because a recovery is likely within five years — if it doesn’t happen, we’re sunk — whichever party wins the White House in 2012 is likely to get the credit, and so too will its policy agenda.” There is no mention that Obama’s proposed $450 billion job creation bill may not be strong enough, as the Left argues. Gone is the argument that the austerity Republicans are campaigning on is the exact opposite of what Keynesian economists are recommending, and thus that will make the economic recession worse by decreasing aggregate demand and increasing long-term unemployment. Klein essentially is arguing that regardless of what is done, and by whom, the economy will rebound significantly after 2012. And he wants the Democrats to get the credit for all they’ve done to make it happen. Either there are real differences with real consequences for the economy, or there aren’t. Nothing is guaranteed. Klein knows that.