President Barack Obama has entered credit-taking mode on the economy.
Early in his presidency, the president and his advisors were wary of making any comments about the stock market or the jobs numbers that could be seen as too upbeat—even when good numbers were released. They worried that booster-ish comments about the turnaround would seem out of step with the economic pain millions of Americans were feeling. So the official White House line was often some variation of "good, but could be better."
That's all changed.
In recent weeks, Obama has begun to use words like "booming" to describe the economy, and to cite "record" growth in various areas. It's a rhetorical shift driven by a political calculus in an election year—and a presidential timing calculus: Obama knows he has more of his presidency in the rear view mirror than ahead. And with GDP expanding at a robust 4 percent annual rate as of last week, his aides are confident that the strong numbers will continue, making it less of a risk to tout success now.
"They feel more comfortable," said a former Obama Administration official. "The real release was when they saw that four handle on GDP." Steady gains have changed the mood inside the White House complex, the former official said. "The fear in the past was even if the overall numbers were good there were still a lot of people feeling pain, so it seemed discordant. But now people are starting to feel a little better about their own personal situation."
The shift is pronounced. In an interview with The Economist released over the weekend, Obama made a full-throated argument for his economic legacy that came without the hedges and caveats he has used in past years. "Let's look at the facts," Obama said. "Since I have come into office, there's almost no economic metric by which you couldn't say that the U.S. economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None."
He went on to cite the administration's successes: "a record stock market," "record corporate profits," 52 straight months of consecutive job growth" and "an energy sector that's booming."