I would like to believe that candidates actually believe the promises they make, but they are not that naïve. Remember George H. Bush promising “no new taxes” when running in 1988? Whoops! Obama promised an unemployment rate less than 6% by the end of his first term. Whoops again! And now Romney is promising 12 million new jobs if elected. Who knows, he might get lucky, but if it were to come true, luck will have been a big part of it. The global economy is complex and brings many unanticipated events into play.
When the economy grows, politicians take way too much credit but when we have recessions they get more than their share of the blame. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a candidate admit they are not in a position to make such guarantees about the future? Presidents are just like stockbrokers. Failure will always be blamed on “unanticipated events,” and success will always be attributed to skill. Whether you agree with Obama’s economic strategy or not, he hasn’t had much luck. That’s why he keeps trying to run on Bill Clinton’s track record rather than his own.
Obviously there are differences in policy between the Parties that can have some impact, but the real “game changer” is the economic cycle that is fundamental to our capitalist economic system. Presidents will have you believe they are in control, but they are at best analogous to the back seat driver on one of those long hook-and-ladder fire trucks. The last recession was probably worse and longer thanks to government policy, but it appears that a recovery may be under way. Government policy may determine the pace of the recovery, but rest assured, we have not seen the demise of the capitalist system and better days are coming!