Morning in America, Part 2

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Jon Chait points out that Bill Kristol has progressed from predicting Republican victory in 2012 to simply assuming that Obama is toast:

In 2013, we’ll need action on the order of 1933 or 1981. Hoover, Carter, and Obama will go down in the history books as failed one-term presidents. Will Obama’s Republican successor be remembered as acting on the scale of FDR and Reagan?

Actually, that’s the least of Kristol’s piece. You really should read the whole thing: it’s a masterpiece of purple prose and florid historic hyperbole. On the other hand, there’s a nontrivial chance that Kristol is right about this. Here’s my nightmare scenario:

  1. Republicans run the country for eight years and produce a historic financial collapse that, per Rogoff and Reinhart, will take four or five years to fix even if we attack it vigorously.
  2. Obama is elected president in 2008.
  3. Republicans do everything in their power to prevent any kind of vigorous action,1 thus ensuring that recovery takes more like five or six years.
  4. Because of this, the economy sucks in 2012 and a Republican candidate wins.
  5. Right on schedule, the economy starts to recover around 2014 or so. By 2015 it’s morning in America!

This is, sadly, not too far-fetched. And if it happens, Republicans will indeed get the credit. After all, Ronald Reagan widely gets the credit for the original morning in America, even though our recovery in 1983 was due much less to lower taxes than it was to falling oil prices, conventional Keynesian stimulus, and Paul Volcker’s decision to ease up on the high interest rates that kicked off the 1981 recession in the first place.

But that’s too complicated. In popular myth, (1) Reagan is elected, (2) he lowers taxes, and (3) the economy recovers. What more do you need to know?

1Yes, yes, Obama and his economic team should have done more too. But keep your eyes on the prize, people. Obama’s timidity is but a single gnat compared to the locust swarm of Republican obstructionism over the past three years.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate