Democrats’ ‘word churning’ of recession not working, Washington Post columnist warns

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Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle dismissed the semantic debate over whether the United States was officially in a recession and warned Democrats that such “word churning” about the state of the economy was not an effective political strategy.

In his Friday article, titled “Enough with the” Is It a Recession? blather,” McArdle began by asking, “Are we in a recession? Does it even matter?” She noted “a preliminary report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released Thursday shows the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.9% in the second quarter, following a decline of 1 .6% in the first quarter”.

Two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth has traditionally been the technical definition of a recession.

McArdle pointed out: “So the pundit class got into a squabble over whether this really constituted a recession. As with everything else these days, the debate (mostly) split along partisan lines. and became so fierce that Wikipedia had to close its entry on recessions to edits.”

President Biden has continued to insist that the United States is not in a recession.
(Getty Images)

POLITICO, CNN AND MSNBC REPORTERS WITHDRAW THE DEFINITION OF RECESSION THEY PREVIOUSLY EMBODIED

She defined both sides of the argument: “The right insists that, yes, obviously, we’re in a recession. What part of ‘two quarters of negative GDP growth’ don’t you understand? The left emphasizes that in fact the official US metric relies on a considerably more complicated cocktail of indicators.”

While McArdle suggested that Democrats’ and Biden’s White House turn was “not unreasonable,” she also admitted “it’s probably unreasonable to spend a lot of time discussing” the definition of a recession.

“The Biden administration has spent a lot of energy trying to manage perceptions of the economy,” the columnist observed. As an example, she reminded readers, “Remember when inflation was going to be ‘temporary?'”

McArdle examined how these talking points from the Biden administration failed to shield President Biden from unpopularity: “Insisting that inflation was just a blip didn’t stop consumers from noticing that prices were rising. Nor did it protect Biden’s approval ratings, which even plunged as the administration continued to insist that everything was fine.”

Chart showing inflationary measures

Chart showing inflationary measures
(istock)

COLBERT BROCHETTE MSNBC, CNN TO REDEFINE THE RECESSION, CLAIMS THEY ARE NOT ‘QUALIFIED’ TO TALK ON THE ISSUE

“In all fairness, some would say that when it comes to economics, perceptions can become reality,” she acknowledged. “So the theory goes, if you can stop the media from bashing the economy, we might all be better off.”

However, McArdle threw cold water on that notion: “You can’t send a message to people thinking their economic situation has gotten worse – or worrying that it bodes ill luck for the future. ” She concluded, “So all rotational efforts are likely to be in vain.”

The columnist added “it’s emblematic of a dangerous tendency on the left to believe that it can control reality by controlling the words we use to describe it.” She then elaborated on the left’s “full-time obsession” with semantics.

“It’s the left that has put us on a treadmill of endless understatement, turning ‘illegal alien’ into ‘illegal immigrant’ and from there into ‘undocumented worker’ and so on,” McArdle cited as an example. . Referring to the findings of linguist Steven Pinker, she explained that “it doesn’t work: negative associations are attached to the underlying concept, not the vocabulary”.

  FEBRUARY 21: Asylum seekers from Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba wait beside the US border wall with Mexico, to be processed by CBP on February 21, 2022 in Yuma, Arizona, USA.  _____ U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about lowering energy prices at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, U.S., Thursday, March 31, 2022. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FEBRUARY 21: Asylum seekers from Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba wait beside the US border wall with Mexico, to be processed by CBP on February 21, 2022 in Yuma, Arizona, USA. _____ U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about lowering energy prices at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, U.S., Thursday, March 31, 2022. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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She warned: “Meanwhile, the constant rolling of words is alienating people who find neologisms alien and off-putting, especially voters less educated than Democrats are now hemorrhaging.”

McArdle concluded the column by offering this advice to Democrats: “Of course, you can’t really blame the Biden administration for trying to put a positive spin on things. But the rest of us — and Democrats in particular – would be better if the spent less time looking for better wording and more time finding solutions.”

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