National Press Club

Politico, Economist reporters forecast close election in uncertain economy

June 13, 2012 | By Lorna Aldrich |

Ben White, Wall Street correspondent for Politico, said he expects a "grinding recovery" that would give President Barack Obama a slight edge over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the fall elections.

White, speaking at a June 12 National Press Club event on the economy and the election, defined the recovery as 100,000 to 200,000 jobs added each month and an unemployment rate staying around 8.1 percent.

If the economy worsens, the edge would go to Romney, White said.

White was part of a three-person panel that was the first in a series of discussions on the election sponsored by the Club's Communication and Marketing Committee.

Greg Ips, U.S. economics editor for the Economist, said that there is more downside than upside risk to the economic forecast. A spike in oil prices, war in Syria, other problems in the Middle East or an election in Mexico that goes against American interests could hurt the recovery, he said.

If Obama is re-elected, he would be the only leader of a wealthy nation to achieve that mark following the economic crisis, Ips said.

Jim McTeague, Washington editor for Barrons, said he believes Obama has already lost the election because of the economy. He cited the decline in the average family's wealth and "wage deflation" as factors.

While Obama would raise taxes on top incomes, cut taxes on others and keep regulations in place, White said that Romney would like to cut taxes, reduce regulations, roll back regulations on the financial sector and cap government spending. It is unlikely Congress would pass all of that agenda, he said.