We have a $14 trillion economy. The idea that presidents can control it lies between an exaggeration and an illusion. Our presidential preferences ought to reflect judgments about candidates’ character, values, competence and their views on issues where what they think counts: foreign policy; long-term economic and social policy — how they would tax and spend; health care; immigration. Forget the business cycle.
Sensible voters should look beyond the cheery or dreary economy of the moment. They should recognize that if presidents could control the business cycle, recessions would never occur, there would always be “full employment” and inflation would remain forever tame. Instead of judging prospective presidents on what they can’t do, voters ought to concentrate on what they can do. There are plenty of real differences among the remaining candidates. But Carville is probably right. For many, it will be the economy, and it will be stupid.
The President’s power to influence the economy, for good or for ill, is overrated. The Federal Reserve Chairman has much more influence, as noted in the article. Other issues, beyond the economy, should take precedence when deciding how to vote for President.