Monday, June 23, 2003

The economic incompetents

Republicans are always tellling us about how they are better guardians of our wealth and prosperity ... but you certainly wouldn't know it from Dubya's record. The dollar is weaker than it's been in many years, the US economy has lost over 3 million jobs during the 2 years and change of the current administration, the federal government has gone from a projected $5-plus trillion surplus to a projected $5-plus trillion deficit in those same 2 years. Even if you give Bush the benefit of the doubt and blame the current economic woes on 9/11, the Republican record just doesn't hold up.

Back when I was in college and taking an intro Statistics course, my term project was to look at GDP growth during Democratic and Republican administrations to see when the most growth took place - in my admittedly simplistic analysis, the Dems came out way ahead. While I liked to believe that the stats I developed accurately reflected reality, deep down I suspected that the numbers wouldn't hold up to deeper inspection. Apparently, though, my initial anlysis was right after all.

Avedon Carol's terrific blog The Sideshow has compiled a series of blog entries from Dwight Meredith's P.L.A. blog, under the rubric Just for the Record. Meredith shows, pretty convincingly, that in every significant category, the economy has fared much better during Democratic administrations than during Republican ones. The numbers used were from the Kennedy Adminstration through the Clinton administration - over those 40 years, Democrats and Republicans each held the White House for 20 years.

The gist?:

1) Economic growth averaged 2.94% under Republican Presidents and 3.92% under Democratic Presidents.

2) Inflation averaged 4.96% under Republicans and 4.26% under Democrats.

3) Unemployment averaged 6.75% under Republicans and 5.1% under Democrats.

4) Total federal spending rose at an average rate of 7.57% under Republican Presidents and at an average rate of 6.96% under Democratic Presidents.

5) Total non-defense federal spending rose at an average rate of 10.08% under Republicans and at an average rate of 8.34% under Democrats.

6) During the forty-year period studied, the National Debt grew by $3.8 trillion under budgets submitted by Republican Presidents and by $720 billion under budgets submitted by Democratic Presidents. Stated differently, the average annual deficit under Republicans was $190 billion; and, while under Democrats, it was $36 billion.

7) During the period studied, under Republican Presidents the number of federal government non-defense employees rose by 310,000, while the number of such employees rose by 59,000 under Democrats.

Those facts make it difficult to argue that Republican Presidents have done a better job than Democratic Presidents in managing the economy. Indeed, if someone will suggest a measure of economic performance in which Republican Presidents have done better than Democratic Presidents, we will be happy to look into the issue. Surely there must be some measure of economic performance that favors the Republicans; however, we have been unable to locate it.

Next time Republican candidates ask for your vote, citing their expertise and Democratic economic incompetence and profligacy as reasons to send your vote their way, ask them how they explain these numbers. See if they actually can, or if they even try. Odds are they'll just change the subject.

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