Political News

Columnist: 'We have not recovered' from the Great Recession

Posted January 31, 2019 1:41 p.m. EST

— New York Times op-ed columnist and economics writer, David Leonhardt, said the US is still crawing its way back from The Great Recession that began in 2007.

"We have not recovered," Leonhardt told David Axelrod on The Axe Files, a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

"One of the mistakes that we make is looking at some metrics like GDP or the stock market, which have recovered, and pretending that we've recovered from the crisis. But if you look at what, to me, are more meaningful measures like Americans' net worth, like the percentage of people employed in good jobs, we have not recovered," he said.

The effects of the Great Recession, coupled with racism, led to the conditions under which President Donald Trump was elected, he argued.

"You have a significant number of voters in this country who swung from voting for Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016 to the Democrats in 2018," he said. "I agree racism plays a role for some voters as well, but I just don't buy this notion ... that it's all racism and only marginally economics. I think it's both."

Although he said he worries that voters' frustrations with government could lead them to seek a strongman as leader or simply give up on government entirely, Leonhardt says he retains some optimism.

"A majority of Americans want the federal government to play a bigger role [in] providing affordable health care. They want a higher minimum wage," he said. "I actually do think on economic matters, there is a progressive, populist majority in this country."

Leonhardt sees social and cultural issues, not economic issues, as dividing the country into "half-and-half."

"America is just not as progressive on immigration (or) on abortion as the Democratic Party is," he said.

But Leonhardt believes Trump is "more vulnerable than many people may realize."