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Under which party doe


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Since 1968 (Nixon Through G.W. Bush)

Since 1988 (The Two Bushes Compared with Clinton)

If the rich are, surprisingly, so much better off under Democratic presidents, what about the rest of us? Other economic statistics, which are available over a longer period of time (1930-2003; 34 years of Republican administrations; 40 years of Democratic administrations), tell basically the same story for the economy as a whole.

Over this period of roughly the last three-quarters of a century, real disposable personal income for all Americans has grown nearly twice as fast under Democrats as under Republicans. (The annual mean growth in real disposable personal income under Republicans has been 2.3 percent; under Democrats, 4.3 percent.)

Republicans have traditionally identified themselves as the party of fiscal discipline, but over the last three-quarters of a century, Republican administrations have increased federal debt at a rate more than four times faster than have Democrats. (This statistic, moreover, includes a decade and a half of combating the Depression and fighting World War II under Democrats and does not include this year’s record Republican deficit of more than $400 billion.) A comparison of the presidencies of the two Bushes and Clinton in the area of fiscal responsibility is especially dramatic. The average annual deficit under Clinton was $40 billion. Under the Bushes (again, not yet including this year’s $400-plus billion deficit), the federal government has gone more deeply into debt at the rate of $256.3 billion per year, meaning that deficit spending has been more than six times worse under the Bushes than Clinton--and that difference grows greater by the day.

President Bush's claims that his economic policies are working are absurd, considering that the massive deficits his tax cuts have produced have yielded only an anemic improvement in the economy. Such improvement as there has been is the Keynesian result of the huge deficits. As Sen. Lloyd Bentsen remarked to me during the Reagan recovery in the mid-1980s, "When you're writing $200 billion in hot checks every year, you can't help but produce some stimulus." Vice President Dick Cheney's rejoinder to then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's concern about growing deficits speaks volumes about how fiscally irresponsible the Republican party has become: "Reagan proved deficits don’t matter."

Here, perhaps, is the answer to the question of why the Republican states are labeled "red states," which seems so odd in light of the GOP's traditional fervent anti-communism. What makes it appropriate to call Republican states red is the color of the ink needed for the party's budgets.

What of overall economic growth? During the period from Herbert Hoover's presidency onward, the American economy (GDP) has grown nearly three times as fast under Democrats as Republicans. (The annual mean growth in real GDP under Republican Presidents has been 1.8 percent; under Democrats, 5.1 percent.)


These statistics show that the popular Democratic slogan, "If you want to live like a Republican, vote for the Democrats," is true--even for the rich.

Are the remarkably better economic results achieved by Democrats due to better policies? Such significant differences over such a long period of time strongly suggest that they are. Some might argue, though, that the Democrats just have better luck. Even if that were the explanation, that luck has been so much better for so long that it would seem foolish for the rich, as well as everyone else, not to vote for a party with such good luck.


Mean Household Income for Top 5% in 2002 dollars:

U.S. Census Bureau, Historical Income Tables - Households, Table H-3, http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/h0301.html, accessed 12 August 2004.

Percent Change from Preceding Period in Real Disposable Income:

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts Table, Table 2.1—Personal Income and Its Disposition, Line 40: Percent Change from Preceding Period: Disposable Personal Income, Chained (2000) Dollars, http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/dn/nipaweb/Tabl...04&Freq=Qtr, accessed 31 July 2004.

Annual Surplus or Deficit:

Budget of the United States Government, Historical Tables: Fiscal Year 2004, Table 1.1—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits, 1789-2008, http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy04/sheets/hist01z1.xls, accessed 1 August 2004.

Percent Change from Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product:

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts Table, Table 1.1.1—Percent Change from Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product, Line 1. http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/dn/nipaweb/Tabl...04&Freq=Qtr , accessed 29 July 2004.

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