“As the country gets ready to pick a new President in 2016, we felt it would be interesting to look at the recent economic performance of the Democratic and Republican parties when they controlled the White House. While there were many ways to cut this data, we chose the last two Presidents of each party and looked at five categories: GDP growth, net job creation, unemployment rate, budget deficits and performance of the Dow Jones.
The contrast between the performance of the economy under recent Democratic and Republican Presidents is stark. Democratic Presidents dramatically outperformed their GOP counterpart in all five categories. Some examples:
Job Creation – Both President Obama and Clinton witnessed an average rate of job growth over 1 million each year. Neither President Bush was able to come close to that number, coming in at 630,000 and 135,000 per year respectively. The two Democratic Presidents oversaw an annual job growth 2.1 million per year. The two Republicans had a combined annual rate of 300,000, or one seventh the total of the two Democrats. The latest data released shows that the economy created 2.9 million jobs in 2014, which is at a comparable job growth rate to an average year in 1990’s.
Unemployment Rate – The two Democratic Presidents saw on average more than a 3 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate during their Presidencies. The two Republicans saw on average more than a 2 percentage point increase. Each Republican President left office with the country in recession.
Deficits – Both Presidents Obama and Clinton witnessed significant declines in the annual budget deficit on their watch. Both President H.W. and W. Bush saw increases of the annual budget deficit on their watch. The second President Bush came to office with a $100 billion annual surplus. He left office with a $1.4 trillion annual deficit, one of the most dramatic turnarounds of America’s finances in any period in US history.
Stock Market – Under the two Democratic presidents, the stock market soared. The Dow Jones has more than doubled in the Obama era and now is at record highs. Under Bill Clinton it grew four fold. Under the first President Bush the market had a small increase. The Dow was lower when the second President Bush left office than when he arrived.
As we look to 2016 it is important to note that the last two Republican Presidents led the nation into recession and larger annual budget deficits. Both Democratic Presidents had to lead the nation out of recession and saw strong job growth, declining deficits and soaring stock markets on their watch. There is indeed a stark contrast between the performances of the two parties on the economy over the past generation. This contrast will be particularly significant in 2016 if the Presidential contest is between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.
Update, April 8: With the 2016 Presidential Race kicking off, we have updated some of the data to reflect current trends in unemployment, job growth, and the stock market. Data about GDP and budget deficits have been kept the same since the initial paper, but will be updated in the future. We hope to keep this data up-to-date as it provides a good foundation of areas to compare the two parties moving forward.”
Facts can only sound partisan when they clearly lean in favor of one party or the other. But there’s nothing partisan about the truth. The fact is since 1989, the American economy has done better under Democratic president’s than Republican president’s.
I disagree with Corey Cantor on one thing though. Bill Clinton didn’t inherit a recession in 1993, the George H.W. Bush recession was over by I believe the spring of 1992 and the economy grew at around two-percent the last quarter of that year. And President Bush 1 did have a net increase in jobs during his four years.
But the economy even in President Clinton’s first four years, was better than his predecessor President Bush and his successor President Bush as well. Ten-million new jobs net were created in President Clinton’s first four years. Unemployment under six-percent, it was over seven-percent when he took office in 1993. The budget deficit was around three-hundred-billion when President Clinton took office in 1993. And it was cut to one-fifty-billion dollars by 1997.
Then you go up to President George W. Bush who didn’t have one recession, but he had two recessions in his eight years as President. 2001-02, slow recovery in 2003 and then of course a big downturn in 2007, followed the Great Recession of 2008-09. President Bush only had really three solid years economically as President. From 2004-07, out of an eight-year presidency, unlike President Reagan another Republican President who had six solid years economically from 1983-89. President Bush came to office with a hundred-billion dollar budget surplus in 2001. Left office with a one-trillion dollar deficit, and a ten-trillion dollar national debt in 2009.
As much as the American economy may have struggled under President Obama with the slow recovery from the Great Recession, well, slow pre-2014, even job growth has been pretty solid since 2010, he will still leave office n 2017 with a better economic record than President Bush. Assuming there isn’t any major downturn in the economy.
If the President and the Republican Congress can agree on trade, tax reform, energy and infrastructure, he probably won’t have that problem to deal with. And may not have to worry about any economic downturn at all. Consumer spending is up, deficit is falling and the President will probably get some trade bills out of Congress in the next two-years.
This isn’t any partisan attacks and if the situation was reversed with the economy doing better under Republican president, you can bet your last dollar that Republicans would be throwing those facts in Democratic faces. But the facts are the economy since 1989 has done better under Democratic presidents. I could go into why and why I believe Democrats have a better economic record, which is the case, but that is really the subject for another post in the future. But as much as Republicans love to talk about fiscal responsibility and fiscal restraint, other than George H.W. Bush their presidents haven’t had a very good record there, at least in recent history.