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October 25, 2004

Neglect Equals Prosperity

John Kerry and associated toadies (not to be confused with Associated Press, though there is some overlap) have made a daily exercise out of bashing the current state of the U.S. economy. President Bush, they say, is focusing on the war in Iraq to the detriment of the folks at home. Allow me to interject some crass facts regarding the economic health of the country in which most of us choose to reside.

Fact #1: Bill Clinton abandoned a sinking ship.

According the the US Department of Commerce, the United States economy has experienced three recessionary quarters in recent memory; that is, quarters with negative economic growth. These quarters were third quarter 2000 (Clinton), first quarter 2001 (Clinton/Bush), and third quarter 2001 (Bush). From this, it is pretty easy for a rational person to understand that George Bush inherited a flagging economy. The economic weakness began during Bill Clinton's penultimate economic quarter and continued into the Bush administration.

Fact #2: The Bush economic plan has resulted in consistent growth.

Since third quarter 2001 (the quarter of the 9/11 Islamic terrorist attack) the United States has experienced uninterrupted positive growth. There's not a negative quarter in the list.

Fact #3: The United States economy is still a world leader.

According to the International Monetary Fund's economic growth records for advanced economies, the only G8 nation with a faster growing economy since 2001 is Canada. Even when you include the economically horrible 2001, the United States economy has expanded more quickly than the economies of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom.

We have three years of uninterrupted growth, and a growth rate that compares favorably to the other industrialized nations of the world. This strikes me as evidence of a healthy economy.

In a country with something in the neighborhood of 300 million humans, jobs are going to come and go in large numbers. Various industries wax and wane as technology and society advance. Depending on how weasely you are, you can use any layoff as "evidence" of an economy gone wrong. Kerry rates a 9.5 on the Weasel Scale (losing a critical .5 points for his more reptilian qualities), so any time a large number of Americans lose their jobs, he goes into his Chicken Little act.

His current weasel tactic is to refer to the number of jobs lost during the Bush administration. The unemployment rate, long considered the standard for measuring the health of the job market, isn't good enough for him. The Bush unemployment rate is better than first term Clinton. It's too healthy. It doesn't support the lie Kerry is telling. He prefers to focus on the enormous job losses from the post-Clinton collapse, and blame them on the current administration.

If George Bush has neglected the United States economy, it has been a miraculous and benign neglect that has resulted in consistent growth and job creation. A more likely explanation is that economic stimulus through tax relief was sufficient to overcome Clinton's economic legacy, just as it corrected the inadequacies of the Carter administration two decades earlier.

Posted by at October 25, 2004 03:26 PM | TrackBack
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> Bill Clinton abandoned a sinking ship

"Abandoned" is unfair. He had to leave office no matter what.

Posted by: Andy Freeman at October 25, 2004 04:23 PM

A'hem, Metaphor.

Posted by: Sully at October 25, 2004 04:51 PM

You can grant all that and still acknowledge that a tax cut targeted more toward the lower and middle classes would have had a more salubrious effect on the economy by stimulating growth in consumer purchases.

Posted by: Lex at October 25, 2004 05:40 PM

Umm, Lex, I am lower middle class here in Massachusettes. I'm also a small business owner. I try to employ veterans whenever possible.

I can say that I've never been hired by a poor person, also having been poor for most of my life, the poor don't pay taxes anyway. It's difficult to get blood from a stone.

If even I got a tax cut, it was not designed to help the wealthy exclusively. About a third of my customers wouldn't have hired me without it.

For me, that's the difference between hiring someone or going it alone.

Posted by: Sully at October 25, 2004 06:22 PM

Uh, Sully, if you keep swinging at straw men like that you're gonna tear a rotator cuff.

I said a tax cut targeted MORE toward the middle class and poor. Would they have hired people? Of course not. But it's likely that their increased consumer spending would have enabled more *businesses* to hire more people.

Part of the purpose of Reagan's '81 program was to accelerate depreciation so that the nation's backlog of aging capacity could be updated. In this recession, we had a significant chunk of state-of-the-art capacity going unused. Different circumstances require a different approach.

Posted by: Lex at October 26, 2004 01:26 PM

I think we may have different definitions of poor & middle class but I understand your point.

Posted by: Sully at October 26, 2004 03:42 PM

> I said a tax cut targeted MORE toward the middle class and poor.

How do you target a tax cut towards people who don't pay taxes?

Why do you assume that such a tax cut would create more jobs?

Posted by: Andy Freeman at October 27, 2004 11:23 AM

Isn't the EIC (Earned Income Credit) a tax cut for the working poor. I make a big distinction between the poor & the working poor.

Posted by: Sully at October 27, 2004 02:06 PM

Andy: What Sully said. Obviously you don't -- can't -- target an income-tax cut toward people without income.

Put another way, think what a tax cut of that same size would have done for consumer spending if, say, 80% or 90% of the benefits had gone to households with some earned income but making, say, less than $100,000 or $200,000 a year. (It might amount to a negative income tax in some cases, but if Milton Friedman has no problem with that concept, I'm at least willing to look at it.)

Posted by: Lex at October 27, 2004 02:37 PM
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