This is all inconvenient for the Chicken Littles on the left and the right. Their predictions of doom keep failing to materialize. So they overhype sub-awesome news about wages and labor participation rates, or concoct bad news about how the new jobs are part-time jobs—they’re almost all full-time jobs—or devise dopey conspiracy theories about Obama cooking the books. Warren tends to focus on how Wall Street is still out of control, but thanks to financial reform, it’s much safer than it was. The world is safer, too, despite all the bad headlines about Paris and ISIL.
It’s not clear how much Obama had to do with this cascade of awesomeness. Republicans are now pointing out that the president isn’t responsible for much of what happens in a free-market economy, which is true, but is something they should have considered before proclaiming so confidently that Obamanomics would crash the stock market, spike gas prices and create mass unemployment. They now argue that things couldn’t have gotten worse than they were when Obama took office—John McCain’s top economic adviser recently scoffed that the Obama stimulus, which all but three Republicans in Congress opposed, was “obvious” policy—but in 2012 they argued that things had in fact gotten worse.
It’s taken awhile for the perceived state of the union to catch up with the actual state of the union. This is a very human reaction; as the political philosopher Louis C.K. points out in this great “Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy” rant, we whine about spotty in-flight wi-fi, when we ought to be appreciating the miracle of human flight. One long-running debate inside this White House has been about “spiking the football,” with the political types usually arguing (even before the recent midterm elections) that it would make Obama look out of touch at a time when so many Americans remained grumpy. But the polling is starting to turn around, and he’ll surely celebrate the good news Tuesday night at the State of the Union, while the GOP downplays it. He’ll also propose more tax hikes for the rich, more tax cuts for everyone else, more generous overtime and sick leave rules for workers, free community college and other policy ideas aimed at the less awesome elements of the economy.