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McCain: ‘Very Likely’ America Is ‘In A Recession’

New Labor Department numbers show that employers slashed jobs by 63,000 in February, “the most in five years, the starkest sign yet the country is heading dangerously toward recession or is in one already.” Faced with the grim jobs report, yesterday at a townhall in Atlanta, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted that he thinks America is “very likely” in a recession:

The main factor out there is that Americans are hurting right now. And they don’t care too much whether it’s a technically a recession or not. So, I would say that, oh, it’s very likely, and more and more economists are saying that we are probably, quote, ‘in a recession.’

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/03/mccainecon3.320.240.flv]

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Paul Krugman wrote yesterday, “[I]t’s a very good guess that we will eventually be told that the second recession of the Bush administration began in December 2007 or January 2008.” McCain, with his self-proclaimed lack of economic knowledge, has instead offered happy talk up until now:

— “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]

— “I still believe our fundamental underpinnings of our economy are strong.” [1/23/08]  — “A lot of this is psychological. A lot of it’s psychological. Because I agree the fundamentals of our economy is still strong.” [1/24/08]

McCain is late to the game. CBO Director Peter Orzag foresaw an “elevated” risk of recession in September 2007. A January USA Today survey of economists found a 50/50 chance of recession. In early February, 60 percent of Americans predicted a recession.

McCain again admitted yesterday, “Am I more versed in national security issues? I would argue yes.”