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Opening Arguments

It's still the economy, stupid

Because of the Obama administration's epic fail in the Mideast and elsewhere on the world stage, the emerging consensus has been that 2016 will be a foreign policy election, which might seem to favor Marco Rubio in the GOP field, who has the best credentials in that area. But not so fast, says Byron York:

But some newly released figures from the Labor Department are a reminder that economic anxieties underlie everything else — and the economy will likely remain the biggest factor in the next presidential race.

On April 2, the department reported that the average American household's pre-tax income went down from mid-2013 to mid-2014. That was on top of a similar decrease the previous year. Amid all the happy talk about the nation's economic recovery, and a falling unemployment rate, Americans are earning less and less.

[. . .]

And the fact remains that the economic recovery is not much of a recovery for millions of Americans.

On top of that, the damage done by the economic meltdown remains unrepaired. Last year, the Russell Sage Foundation found that for households right in the middle of the American wealth distribution, net worth declined from nearly $88,000 in 2003 to about $56,000 in 2013.

If we have a 9/11-level act of terrorism, then most other issues will be off the table. Otherwise, though, I suspect York is right. Even when we think the world might not be as safe as it should be, foreign policy is just not something most Americans worry a lot about. But a lousy economy hits them every day where they live.