(REALCLEARPOLITICS) — All elections are about "the economy, stupid," as the old saying goes. This one more so than usual. We are now five years from the beginning of the recession. The economy has technically recovered, but there is some doubt about that; if official statistics are undercounting inflation, which is likely, we may still be in a recession. Certainly, this doesn't have the usual characteristics of a recovery. There has been no surge of growth to bring us back to prosperity and no real improvement in employment. In fact, there is widespread speculation that we could be heading back down into a new recession.
It goes without saying that the trillions of dollars in stimulus, both through federal spending and through money-printing at the Federal Reserve, have depressed the economy instead of stimulating it, giving us the weakest economic recovery on record. Literally. This year may end up being the worst non-recession, non-depression year of economic growth on record. The second-worst year: 2011.
The alternative is to stop trying to stimulate the economy through artificial means, and instead to get the government out of the way, to keep taxes low and reduce regulatory barriers, so that the economy can recover naturally and sustainably on its own.
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All of that is an argument against another term for Barack Obama and in favor of his opponent, because the president has learned nothing from the failure of his policies. President Obama was elected precisely because of this stubborn refusal to recognize the failure of the statist ideal. Four years ago, that gave him an aura of optimistic idealism. Four years later, it gives him an aura of arrogant, out-of-touch dogmatism. It makes him seem-as it did in last week's debate-as if he just doesn't care and he's not even trying. And while I don't trust Mitt Romney to understand exactly the right course of action to reverse our direction, he has been talking about a real reversal in direction, about avoiding tax increases and reducing regulation.