“With one exception, the economic data don’t support such gloomy views. The unemployment rate has ticked up slightly, but it is still lower than anyone would have thought possible only a few years ago — and in much of the country labor markets remain tight. Business payrolls actually expanded faster from November through January than they did in the previous three months….
There’s no mystery about why the administration is so eager to pronounce the economy flat on its back — Mr. Bush wants to use fear of recession to bully Congress into rushing through his tax cut, without worrying about little details like whether it would actually help, or whether we can actually afford it. But it’s still a remarkable departure from the usual principles of economic policy. Has there ever before been a case of a U.S. administration deliberately undermining confidence for the sake of political advantage?”