Everything that’s supposed to happen in politics this year, and everything that has happened for the last several months, has been premised on the tacit, but seemingly safe assumption: The economy will remain weak for years.
This has underlined Congressional jobs bill theatrics, campaign rhetoric about Obama’s record, debates about who’s to blame for high unemployment, and which party best represents the interests of the middle class.
But what if that assumption is wrong?
A contrarian school of thought holds that it is wrong — and its proponents have a growing cache of evidence to back them up.
If these evidence-based optimists are correct the political implications will be vast — as we all saw on Friday when a promising jobs report from the Department of Labor alighted into the political consciousness the possibility that a robust economic recovery could take hold imminently, and thus overturn a year’s worth of conventional wisdom about the trajcectory of the 2012 election.
Karl Smith, an economist at the University of North Carolina and author of the Modeled Behavior blog, is a major proponent of this forecast — what you might call Recovery Winter.Slate’s Matt Yglesias explained it here. I went straight to the source to hear why Smith concluded that a real recovery was finally looming, and decided to take his prediction public at the considerable risk of embarrassment if the gloom-and-doomers turn out to be right.
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