On Friday, new Labor Department numbers showing that employers slashed jobs by 63,000 in February offered “ominous signs that the country is falling toward a recession or has already toppled into one.” So stark was the grim economic data that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to reverse his happy talk and admit that “it’s very likely” that America is “in a recession.”
But in an interview recorded the same day with CBS’s 60 Minutes, McCain returned to his old rhetorical ways, optimistically declaring that “the fundamentals of our economy are still strong”:
Asked how he would characterize the mortgage mess, McCain said, “I think it’s a disaster, but let me hasten to add, Scott, I think the fundamentals of our economy are still strong.”
— “I don’t know technically whether we’re going into a recession or not, but I believe in the long term, our fundamentals are strong.” [3/3/08]
— “I think if we’re going to be in some shaky times — and by the way, I believe the fundamentals of America’s economy [are] still strong.” [2/3/08]
— “And by the way, I don’t believe we’re headed into a recession. I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong, and I believe they will remain strong.” [Fox News Debate, 1/10/08]
McCain has a self-proclaimed lack of economic knowledge, but he is insistent on claiming the “fundamentals are strong.” Yet actual economists say there is real cause for concern.
At an economic conference on Friday, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said that “we are facing the most serious combination of macroeconomic and financial stresses that the United States has faced in at least a generation.” “We are in nearly unprecedented territory with respect to financial strain,” added Summers.