Friday, July 6, 2012

Ds, Rs, and $$

It's not news to anyone who gets it from an actual news source: the US economy generally does better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones.

The linked article spells out its methodology pretty clearly. I can't judge its merits, and it's not a wipeout of all Rs. Still, it puts George W. Bush at the very bottom, so it can't be off by much. And, interestingly, it scores based on claimed Republican economic verities:

In “The President as Economist: Scoring Economic Performance From Harry Truman to Barack Obama,” I compare the 12 presidents since World War II using 17 economic indicators, including growth in gross domestic product, rate of unemployment, inflation, population below the poverty line, increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, savings and investment rates, exports and trade balances, federal budget growth, and debt and federal taxes as a share of GDP.

Smaller Government

The analysis accepts Republican economic philosophy that says the U.S. would be better off with a lower rate of federal budget growth and a smaller federal budget relative to GDP. So presidents were penalized if the federal budget grew faster than the economy during their terms. Likewise, higher tax revenue as a share of GDP also counts against a president’s record. It is a framework that rewards smaller government.

And it includes the following reasonable statement:

It’s important to note that the analysis uses a one-year lag on the indicators to reflect that a president’s first year in office is usually dominated by the federal budgets and policies adopted under the previous administration. No reasonable economist would blame the 10.5 percent inflation rate and other weak economic conditions of 1981 on Reagan. Clearly, Carter was mainly responsible, presidentially speaking. Similarly, the slow economic growth of 2001 had nothing to do with George W. Bush’s policies, and Obama cannot credibly be blamed for the economic fallout of 2009.
My point, as is usually the case, is just to wish that the election would be about reality. If people want failed Reaganomics again, fully understanding its future implications and past failures, so be it. If they really think we're better off as a country going back to throwing millions off the health care rolls and paying the consequences, recognizing Rs have never proposed anything but the preexisting (pun intended) "market forces," well, okay, I guess.

If voters prefer the absolutely true image of Mitt Romney as a pathological liar over the made-up image of Barack Obama as a terrorist-loving America-hating destroyer of capitalism, there's not much we can do. And, given the corporate billions flowing into the process, the only difference between the choice as outlined and the one they think they'll be making will be between Mitt Romney, man of the people, balancer of the budget without costing anyone anything, and Barack Obama, evil incarnate.

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