Talk about talking down the economy! No fewer than three times today, Matt Lauer invited Barack Obama to declare that the U.S. economy is headed into recession. At the end of a "Today" interview that focused largely on Hillary-related issues and Iran, Lauer turned to the economy and pressed Obama to predict the worst.
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MATT LAUER: You've seen all the economic data, Senator Obama. Are we headed into a recession?Obama proceeded to tick off a laundy list or problems: "war talk coming out of Bush administration, the housing crisis, and, of course, tax cuts for "folks who don't need it while ordinary families are struggling."
BARACK OBAMA: Well, I don't know that we're headed into a recession. What I know is that we've got some structural problems in our economy.
Even that last bit of class warfare wasn't enough to appease Matt.
LAUER: In the last 10 seconds, let me go back to that. Because as president of the United States it would be your job to get ahead of the curve on something like a recession. So let me ask you again, in your gut, do you think we're headed to a recession?Obama trotted out the same notion that the economy has strengths but also weaknesses that need to be addressed.
Matt gave it one last try.
LAUER: Kind of a yes or no answer. You're not answering the question. Do you think we're headed to a recession?Lucky for Obama he didn't fall into Lauer's trap. Just an hour later, the Labor Department issued a surprisingly strong jobs report. As Dow Jones stated:
OBAMA: Matt, I'm not going to predict that we're going into a recession. That would be, I think, irresponsible.
Shaking off fears about weakness in housing and credit, the U.S. economy created 166,000 net jobs in October, the best job growth since May, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The unemployment rate was steady at 4.7% as expected, the government said.
Job growth as measured by a survey of 400,000 businesses was stronger than the 93,000 expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch.