Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Future Is Now

If you've lost your job or your home, you already know that the future — for you — is now.

It's not that immediate for presidents most of the time. Certainly not for this president, who hasn't been in office for six months yet, enjoys the continued good will of the people and won't have to ask for their votes for another three years.

But, for one–third of the members of the Senate and all of the members of the House, the campaign trail for 2010 beckons.

And for them, as Amy Walter points out in National Journal, "the long view isn't politically feasible."

They must be prepared to face some tough questions about the economy. And they must be prepared to answer those questions soon.

The unemployed will want to know when they can expect things to turn around — if there is scant evidence, at that point, of a blossoming recovery. As Walter observes, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer may have circulated, at a recent breakfast, an "impressive list" of a baker's dozen initiatives the administration has enacted. "But the next election will be a referendum on the economy. Period."

And Walter proceeds to bring the matter into focus for both Democrats and Republicans.

"If things are looking good, then Democrats can make the case for why it's important to keep their party in charge," she writes. "If it's not, then all the bragging about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights won't mean much."

Maybe it seems unfair to be judged in this way. It may well be.

But life isn't fair. I imagine that just about everyone who is unemployed would acknowledge that.

Maybe it's unrealistic to expect to see signs of a recovery as soon as next year, given the fact that this recession is seen as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Well, unrealistic or not, you play the cards you're dealt.

From the incumbents' perspective, it would be great to run with GDP humming along and unemployment about as low as it can possibly get.

But that isn't the hand we've been dealt.

At least, not yet.

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