President Obama, in an interview with New York Times Magazine, blamed poor messaging about the economy – not the poor economy itself – as a big reason why Democrats weren’t able to keep the House or Senate in recent congressional elections.
In the same interview, he also slammed Republicans for their own economic strategies, while admitting his White House could have done more to inspire growth.
“I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we have taken to the swing voter,” he said, in the interview, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Obama suggested the economy is actually better than Americans know, Politico reported.
“I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” he said. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.”
His remarks come as GOP front-runner Donald Trump has labeled the economy a “third-world nation” and Democratic leader Hillary Clinton has called it subpar, saying “many are still barely getting by,” as the New York Times Magazine noted.
Obama then recognized he could have done more, however, to ease the nation’s fiscal pains and said he’s been kept “up at night sometimes” by what he pointed to as his own failures to implement pro-recovery policies.
“I can probably tick off three or four common-sense things we could have done where we’d be growing a percentage or two faster each year,” he said. “We could have brought down the unemployment rate lower, faster. We could have been lifitng wages even faster than we did.”
And yet: The Republican method of solving economic issues is all wrong, he claimed.
“If you look at the platforms, the economic platforms of the current Republican candidates for president, they don’t simply defy logic and any known economic theories, they are fantasy,” he said. “Slashing taxes particularly for those at the very top, dismantling regulatory regimes that protect our air and our environment and then projecting that this is going to lead to 5 percent or 7 percent growth, and claiming that they’ll do all this while balancing the budget. Nobody would even, with the most rudimentary knowledge of economics, think that any of those things are plausible.”
Obama also commented during the interview on the political sparring between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton about their views of breaking big banks to diminish their effects on the overall economy.
With sarcasm, Politico reported, he said: “It is true that we have not dismantled the financial system and in that sense, Bernie Sanders … is correct.”
Obama added: “But one of the things that I’ve consistently tried to remind myself during the course of my presidency is that the economy is not an abstraction. It’s not something that you can just redesign and break up and put back together again without consequences.”