Ben Stein, right-wing actor and speech writer in the administration of Richard Nixon, admitted on a TV talk show recently that the nation at that time was already in a recession but added that it would not become a depression and we will never again see another depression. That would seem to be a backhanded admission that the economic reforms instituted by regulation-loving, high-taxing big-government Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s are working as planned and that regulatory reforms work, the very reforms Stein's intellectual brethren on the right are trying to dismantle. We should also see that an important segment of the economy can damage the entire economy if allowed to do as it pleases; that is illustrated now by the petroleum industry.
This article looks at the historical economic performances of both left (Democratic administrations) and right (Republican regimes) in much of the 20th Century by using statistics and facts not opinion or propaganda. What we find may be surprising.
What is not surprising is that Republican to-be presidential nominee John McCain is campaigning on the same old same old GOP mantra about how to handle the economy with more tax cuts and more deregulation while the Democratic hopefuls are relatively silent about the Donkey's economic history. Al Gore wouldn't touch the subject in 2000 and John Kerry was equally as silent on the matter in 2004. Gore's stance was most egregious because he was inheriting the greatest economic advance in history and mentioned it naught.
"Big government" federal spending has increased about $35 billion annually under Democrats but $60 billion under Republicans. Spending will rise each year because of inflation and population growth but that doesn't justify the difference between the parties.
In a column in the Los Angeles Times after the report was released, then editorial-page editor Michael Kinsley wrote:
"That is, they win if you consider lower federal revenues to be a victory. Sometimes Republicans say that cutting taxes will raise government revenues by stimulating the economy. And sometimes they say that lower revenues are good because they will lead (by some mysterious process) to lower spending.
"The numbers in the Economic Report undermine both theories. Spending goes up faster under Republican presidents than under Democratic ones. And the economy grows faster under Democrats than Republicans. What grows faster under Republicans is debt."
Since 1960, the federal deficit has averaged $131 billion a year under the GOP and $30 billion for Democrats. In an average Republican year the deficit increased by $36 billion. In an average Democratic year it shrank by $25 billion.
"The national debt has gone up more than $200 billion a year under Republican presidents and less than $100 billion a year under Democrats. If you start counting in 1981 or attribute responsibility with a year's delay, the numbers change, but the bottom line doesn't: Democrats do Republican economics better than Republicans do," Kinsley wrote.
Both the deficit and debt will be distorted somewhat by the present administration because it pays for its war by off-budget borrowing and spending of hundreds of billions of dollars annually to mask the totals of both.
The gross domestic product from 1960 to 2005 (taking inflation into account) rose an average of $165 billion a year in 2000 dollars under Republican administrations and $212 billion a year under Democrats. On the average yearly rise in per capita income, Democrats score about 30% higher.
On inflation Democrats average 3.13 % versus 3.89% for Republicans. On unemployment (5.33% under Democrats versus 6.38% for the GOP). Unemployment fell in the average Democratic year, rose in the average Republican one.
Figures from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and White House Council of Economic Advisors shows these facts as printed in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in late 2007 by Robert Weiner and John Larmet:
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