Until the shooting in the Washington Navy Yard cast a pall over the city, Monday was supposed to be a day for President Obama to mark the fifth anniversary of the financial crash and tout his administration's handling of the economic recovery. His argument -- in remarks at the White House that were overshadowed by the massacre -- in a document released over the weekend, and repeatedly over the last few years has been simple enough: No, things aren't where they need to be, but they would have been so much worse if we hadn't done what we did.
"It could have been worse" isn't the most compelling case, but it is one that many economists agree with, at least in broad strokes. Obama's successful reelection suggests that voters, though somewhat skeptical of his handling of the economy, didn't completely reject it.
But guess who stepped on the administration's message? Not for the first time, it's Joe Biden. The vice president headlined Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's annual steak fry in Indianola over the weekend, launching a thousand speculative stories about his intentions with regard to the 2016 presidential race. But the real headscratcher was the economic case Biden tried to make. Here's the lead quote from the Washington Post's dispatch:
“The president and I have had a laser focus on one thing: raising up the middle class,” Biden said, adding, “The measure of success of our administration will be whether or not the middle class is growing and the things that allow it to grow, and allow it to feel some security, are able to be put in place again.”