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Is Obama Fabricating Bad Economic News?

 Yesterday, Barack Obama gave a speech about the grim state of the economy. News reports reacted with astonishing skepticism. Here's the Washington Post:

In his first major speech since Election Day, Obama participated in an early version of a presidential ritual: preparing the country for an eventual economic recovery by painting an especially grim picture of the nation's fiscal standing at the start.

And here's The Hill:

Barack Obama won the White House on a message of hope, but when it comes to dealing with the first test of his presidency, he has mixed in a little fear. ... Obama’s tactics ring familiar to those President Bush and his administration used when they claimed that the evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq could come in the form of “a mushroom cloud.”

But, look, Obama's rhetoric isn't spin. Every private forecaster says the economy is in terrible shape. Almost nobody thinks this a normal recession. The optimistic forecast is a deep recession with double-digit unemployment. The pessimistic forecast is anothe Great Depression. To dismiss this as political rhetoric is just wildly out of touch with reality. Yes, pessimistic analysis about the state of the economy helps Obama, but it also happens to be true.

Jonathan Chait