The Economic Dilemma Democrats Face in 2016

The Economic Dilemma Democrats Face in 2016

The Economic Dilemma Democrats Face in 2016

The challenge for any Democratic candidate is to learn—and learn fast—that he or she must be the candidate of fundamental change, not the candidate of continuity.


Democrats face a dilemma in 2016: How do they deal with the Obama presidency, and particularly the Obama economy? As the early primaries have shown, Americans are in a surly mood, with the economy at the center of their concerns. The Obama administration naturally wants Democrats to brag on its record. Republicans, of course, blame President Obama for everything under the sun. My Post colleague E.J. Dionne Jr. argues that Democrats will “undercut” their “chances of holding the White House” if they don’t defend the progress made under Obama and proclaim that the United States is “in far better shape economically than most other countries in the world.” But this morsel of conventional wisdom ignores what is going on in the country.

No doubt Obama deserves some credit. He inherited an economy that was in free fall and turned it around. Topline unemployment has been cut by more than half by a record number of consecutive months with job growth. We’ve witnessed the first indications of wages ticking up. Healthcare reform has provided health protections for millions who lacked them before, particularly with the expansion of Medicaid. Financial reform has at least provided consumers with their own cop on the beat with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And all was accomplished in the face of unrelenting Republican obstruction.

But the anger of American voters isn’t unfounded. This economy still doesn’t work for most Americans. Most households haven’t recovered from the financial collapse. The median household wealth of black families—now a bleak $11,000, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center report—was cut almost in half by the collapse and hasn’t recovered. Working families know that they have been savaged by ruinous trade policies that Obama supports. Banks got bailed out, and they are bigger and more concentrated than ever, but homeowners were abandoned. Insurance and drug companies and private hospital complexes still force Americans to pay obscene sums for their healthcare.

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

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