Republicans Better for the Economy? Pure Fiction!

by: Bruce Allen


National Debt 1953 - 2008

This post from February needs to be dusted off in honor of the Democratic National Convention.
Administration     Change in National Debt as % of GNP …… Verdict…..
_____________________________________________________________
Eisenhower………………… -16.2%……………………………… Outstanding
Kennedy/Johnson……….. -16.5%……………………………… Outstanding
Nixon/Ford…………………. -2.8%………………………………. Adequate
Carter…………………………. -3.2% ……………………………….One term only
Reagan……………………… +20.5% ……………………………..Impeachable
Bush Sr……………………… +13.1% ……………………………..Shameful
Clinton………………………… -8.8%……………………………… Very good
Bush Jr……………………… +12.4%*……………………………. Unacceptable
*End of year 2008 estimate.

The myth of “tax and spend Democrats” is, in fact, a myth. The myth of “dispassionate, fiscally responsible Republicans” transcends myth, having achieved jokedom. And, most amazingly, the myth that Republicans are better for the economy is (you guessed it) pure fiction.

There is some slop in these figures, due to macroeconomic lags and the partisan complicity of Congress. The balance of power between the White House and Congress has been roughly even over this period. One party has controlled both branches of government for about as long as they have been split. Republicans have controlled the White House for 32 of the 52 years included in the study. Otherwise, the figures speak for themselves.

We also correlated GNP growth by year during this same period to test the Republican claim that they are better at growing the economy than Democrats. These statistics are, unfortunately, just as rough. Yet the contrast is significant. During 32 years of 5 Republican administrations, measured in linked 2000 dollars, average annual GNP growth was 2.7%. During the 20 years of 3 Democratic administrations, average annual GNP growth was 4%, again measured in real dollars. So the Democrats were 50% more successful growing the economy during their terms, and did so without busting the budget every year.

Republicans who stand around today wringing their hands over the fact that our Treasury bonds are in the hands of foreign governments have only themselves to blame, in that the bulk of these bonds were issued to finance the fiscal irresponsibility of the 3 Republican presidents since 1980.

A headline crossed my desktop while I was working on this: “Federal Deficit Could Reach $800 Billion”. In this election year, the Democratic nominee must not allow John McCain to position himself as the business-friendly candidate, the guy for economic growth and fiscal discipline. That kind of thinking went out with Eisenhower.

Disclosure: None