Math is hard. Just ask Bill Clinton.
Here’s one of the more memorable lines from his Democratic National Convention address: “What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”
But Clinton’s speech last night really didn’t add up. Take this Clinton claim:
Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private- sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans: twenty-four million. Democrats: forty-two.
Why would we analyze the effectiveness of economic approaches by using party labels rather than looking at the actual policies? For instance, about 10 million net new private jobs were created during the Nixon-Ford years vs 21 million under Clinton.
But which administration generally followed conservative policies of shrinking government (spending fell to 18% of GDP under Clinton from 21%), welfare reform, and cutting taxes on capital … and which administration expanded government (spending rose to 21% of GDP under Nixon-Ford from 19%), increased regulation (the pages in the Federal Register by grew by 185% under Nixon and Ford vs. 7% under Clinton) and presided over a confiscatory tax code?
And was JFK or George H. W. Bush the more conservative president? The former cut taxes — even for the richest Americans — while the other raised them.
If you look at job growth under right-of-center economic policies (putting Clinton and JFK in this category) vs. left-of-center economic policies (swapping in Nixon, Ford, and Bush I), the “job score” looks a lot different.
Conservative economic policies win 40 million jobs to 26 million jobs