The Economy, Stupid

The Commerce Department reported sluggish economic growth in this year’s first quarter, of 0.6 percent, which is the slowest since the last quarter of 2002. For all of the criticism Bush has received on a variety of fronts, economic growth has been solid for about 4 years now. Though polls indicate Americans feel worse about the economy than you’d expect from the economic numbers (liberals attribute this to income inequality), the economy has been strong enough so that the Democrats haven’t been able to use it as an issue. If the economy stalls over the next year and a half (or dips into a recession) it will be another tool in the arsenal for Democrats in 2008. Then, the argument won’t just be that we’re spending too much money and losing too many lives in Iraq, but because Bush was so worried about Iraq, he neglected people here at home. In other words, it would strengthen the Democrats’ case for change. To be sure, there are six more quarters between now and next November, so this may just turn out to be a blip, but it’s worth keeping in mind, because when the economy is doing poorly, pocket book issues rise to the top of the political radar, and that’s normally not good news for the incumbent party.