The toxic politics of bad economic news

Why Republicans rejoiced over a GDP drop — and how it could backfire

President Biden.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Conservatives could barely contain their glee Thursday morning when news broke that the U.S. economy contracted by 1.4 percent on an annualized basis during the first quarter of 2022.

A declining gross domestic product can be a sign of a looming recession. But when it's combined with already high inflation, something worse becomes possible: stagflation. This combination of economic contraction with inflation walloped the Americans economy through the 1970s and early 1980s and played a significant role in helping Ronald Reagan make Jimmy Carter a one-term president. It's most likely happy memories of that seminal moment in the history of the Republican Party that made so many conservatives giddy.

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