Whoever Wins in November Will Be an Economic Genius

| Mon Jan. 16, 2012 6:51 PM EST

Eventually the American economy will recover no matter how badly we screw things up. Ezra Klein explains what this could mean:

Because a recovery is likely within five years, whichever party wins the White House in 2012 is likely to get the credit, and so too will its policy agenda. You can see how this will work. If Romney wins the presidency and the economy begins to rebound, Republicans will argue, and America’s experience will seem to show, that they were right all along: The stimulus was useless and the regulatory uncertainty the Obama administration created with its health-care plan and its talk of cap-and-trade and all the rest kept businesses from investing.

This has been my particular political nightmare for the past year. Ronald Reagan didn't really do much to fix the economy in the early 80s, after all, but in popular lore that doesn't matter. He won the 1980 election, lowered taxes, radiated his famously sunny disposition throughout the land, and voila! It was morning in America. We've been living with the consequences ever since.

Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan, but it could happen again. Sadly, popular opinion has very little to do with actual boring facts.

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