It's time to start building an agenda for 2016

At least Republicans could argue the boomlet is unsustainable, a mirage built on trillion-dollar deficits, right? Well, they could try. But the Congressional Budget Office predicts the budget deficit in 2016 will be $476 billion, down a whopping two-thirds from where it was in 2009, and just 2.5 percent of GDP. Federal debt as a share of the economy will have more or less stabilized around 75 percent of GDP (if only temporarily, before the entitlements deluge). And despite Obamacare, total federal spending as a share of the economy will be down nearly 15 percent since the end of the Great Recession. The Obama legacy: More growth, more jobs, less debt, smaller government. And universal health care.

Now, surely the American public would see right through this shameless, context-free cherry-picking of economic factoids, right? Maybe not. Just look at how the media spun last week’s February jobs report. The New York Times headline writers chose these words: “Unemployment at 4-Year Low as U.S. Hiring Gains Steam.” No matter that those lower unemployment rates are the result of a collapse in labor-force participation. (If workers were as active as they were just a year ago, the unemployment rate would be 8.3 percent.) And ignore that, at the heightened pace of job growth the past three months, it still would take until late 2021 before employment reached pre–Great Recession levels. Expect the media to be effective messengers of New Normal expectations for U.S. economic growth and job creation. That effort will jibe nicely with the understandable Democratic economic argument: After a decade of bubblenomics, slow and steady is okay.

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