Saturday, April 16, 2011

A tightly guarded secret: Dems do better on economy

As a rule, the economy does better when a Democrat occupies the White House. That’s a clear-cut, longstanding statistical fact, which holds up whether you’re looking at jobs, the stock market, the nation’s total output of goods and services or some other economic measure. (See citations below.)

Now here’s what I puzzle over: How come this amply documented fact is such a well-kept secret?

Just imagine for a moment that the two parties’ economic records were switched. Every man, woman, child, cat and dog in America would know that the economy does better under Republican presidents than under Democratic ones, so powerful is the right-wing publicity machine. Fox News, talk radio and conservative think tanks would constantly hammer on that fact. And in reporting on budget debates, the mainstream media would routinely insert a boilerplate line noting the superior performance of the economy when a Republican is the chief executive.

But it’s the Dems that own the better record, so their accomplishments go unnoticed. Meanwhile, the GOP makes up in repetition what it lacks in a record. For instance, the party and its media spokespeople keep asserting several times a day that cutting taxes even on the wealthy creates jobs. Never mind that President George W. Bush spectacularly demonstrated otherwise. Make a dubious assertion often enough, and it starts sounding like solid fact.

Interestingly, all income sectors – the poor and the rich as well as everybody in between – do better under a Democratic president. Sure, the rich pay more in taxes, but because the economy is doing so well, they easily make up the difference with stock dividends and other income.

By the way, Bush’s fiscal policies (like President Reagan’s before him) have led to whopping budget deficits, which have spilled over into the Obama years – spillage that  the right-wing publicity machine has exploited. Thus, President Obama’s getting the rap. Republicans are going spastic over deficit spending, arguing it is a blight on America and must be wiped out. They skip over one little detail: Their party is the one largely responsible for that spending.

The major parties have two different economic approaches. Republicans tend to push money up the income scale by reducing programs for the poor and the middle class and cutting taxes for the rich. Democrats tend to push money down that scale by enhancing programs for the poor and the middle-class and raising taxes on the rich. Also, the GOP  tends to relax regulations on the marketplace, and the Dems tend to tighten the regs.

The results over decades are in: The Democratic approach apparently works better – a fact that is relevant in the present budget debate, in which House Repubicans are supporting Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget bill, which is, in today’s parlance, the Republican approach on steroids.

Articles on economic data showing better performance under Democratic presidents:

“Congresswoman says Democratic presidents create more private-sector jobs,” St Petersburg Times .

“How the U.S. Economy Performed Under Democratic and Republican Presidents,” Currency Thoughts.


“Politicians Lie, Numbers Don't,” Slate

“Would Obama’s Plan Be Faster, Fairer, Stronger?” The New York Times. (See chart showing all income sectors do better under Democrats.)

“Democratic vs. Republican Presidents: Economic Prosperity,” Blue Works Better

“Which Party Has Posted The Strongest Economic Numbers In The Modern Era?”

Articles on the budget deficit:
"Critics Still Wrong on What’s Driving Deficits in Coming Years," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  

“CNN Fact Check: Is the annual deficit under Obama 12 times the deficit under Republicans?” CNN.