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  • Writer's pictureNorth Shore Democrats of Travis County

Democrats are great for the economy; the other guys… not so much



Had the US enjoyed only Democratic leadership for the last nine decades, would Americans’ income be double current levels? Facts seem to support that supposition. Since 1933, the economy has grown annually at 4.6% on average under Democratic presidents, but just 2.4%under Republicans, according to an analysis by The New York Times (1).


To put it another way, had the economy grown at the Democratic rate for all of the past nine decades, Americans’ average income would be more than twice its current level (1). The newspaper adds that the 1933-forward era is “too kind to Republicans, because it excludes the portion of the Great Depression that happened on Herbert Hoover’s watch (1).


The superior economic performance under Democratic Administrations is true regardless of the economic metric examined. Economic growth, employment, job creation, income and productivity have all been stronger under Democratic presidents. (2)


No one is really certain why Democrats consistently outperform Republicans. Statistical noise does not seem to be the cause. Nor is which party controls Congress a factor (1).


The likely explanation is that Democrats are pragmatic, while Republicans cling stubbornly to magical thinking. While Dems heed economic and historical lessons about what strengthens the economy, Republicans worship at the altar of tax cuts and deregulation (1).


It’s been called “trickle down economics,” made popular by the precursor-to-Great-Depression-presidency of Calvin Coolidge. Later, it was “supply-side economics,” which drove our deficit into the stratosphere under Ronald Reagan. Either way, GOP remedies are cures worse than the disease, increasing deficits, widening the income gap, and accentuating class distinction in our democratic nation.


This is Zombie Economics, as described by Nobel-winning New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman (3). Among the Zombies — ideas that never seem to die, despite repeated failures in practice — are the belief that budget deficits are always bad and that tax cuts for the rich spur the economy. There has never been a shred of evidence to support any of these ideas (3). In reality, tax cuts for the wealthiest go no farther than their wallets. But there is a method to the GOP’s madness, because the party genuflects before wealthy fat cats. Do you think the fat cats care more about the big picture, or their own bank balances?


And the facts are clear. Since World War II, the unemployment rate has fallen on average under Democratic presidents, while it has risen on average under Republican presidents. Budget deficits relative to the size of the economy were lower on average for Democratic presidents. Ten of the 11 U.S. recessions between 1953 and 2020 began under Republican presidents (8)


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