Mitt Romney Embraces the Economy Counterfactual

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Awhile back, we wrote that a sunnier economic outlook is calling into question who will have to make the difficult argument that the economy could have been better or worse if Barack Obama had not been elected in 2008. For most of his term, that burden has fallen to the President, who reacted to a stagnant recovery with constant reminders of the Bush years and what might have been. But the onus of this task isn’t clear anymore, as Mitt Romney demonstrated on Monday morning while campaigning in Illinois. Per Politico:

“I believe the economy is coming back, by the way,” Romney said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s had ups and downs. I think it’s finally coming back. The economy always comes back after a recession, of course. There’s never been one that we didn’t recover from. The problem is this one has been deeper than it needed to be and a slower recovery than it should have been, by virtue of the policies of this president. Almost everything he’s done has made it harder for this economy to recover.”

Romney may be getting ahead of himself — growth could slow to a crawl this summer even as the job market looks up, and brazen talk of a comeback is risky politics for both parties — but this is generally a bad sign for the GOP front runner. Republicans have long pointed out that “It could have been worse” makes for a lousy campaign slogan. “It could have been better” isn’t much of an improvement.