I love the phrases “Flying by instruments,” or “Data Driven”. Without a doubt it reflects my distrust of my own biases and prejudices, so I lean heavily to the analytical, to what can be tested and proven. The scientific method is just part of me.
So it’s no surprise that I thought one of the most interesting things to come out of the Democratic National Convention was Bill Clinton’s heavy in the policy and statistics speech. And what followed in the press was that Bill Clinton Was Right, according to US News and World Report, not known to be a bastion of the East Coast Media Elite.
In particular US News & World Report analyzed economic outcomes based on the party of the president. Since 1961 Democrats added 41 million jobs (Clinton rounded up to 42) while Republicans added about half as many at 21 million jobs. Now this was from the start to the end of each administration but that hardly seems fair. Surely some time is needed to change the jobs outcome. So the writer skewed to numbers to one year after the start of an administration to one year after it ended. In other words give an administration a year to let things kick in. Result: Dems 38 million, GOP 27 million.
This was only private sector jobs, which seems to me the Republicans would agree are the really good ones, or as I’ve heard argued, government can’t create jobs. But the writer checked total jobs, including government, again giving one year for administration policies to kick in and once again: Dems 44 million, GOP 34 million.
Another very interesting review, again not from the East Coast Media Elite (correct me if I’m wrong as I think use of this phrase is whining on the parts of conservatives so I’m not sure of the scorecard as to who is or isn’t in the “Elite”), is from Fox News in their story History Shows Stocks, GDP Outperform Under Democrats we learn that GDP (gross domestic profit), stock prices, and corporate profits are better under Democrats.
McGraw-Hill’s S&P Capital IQ analysis shows:
- Since 1949 the Gross domestic product (GDP) found Dem’s 4.2% average annual GDP growth versus GOP’s 2.6%.
- Since 1901 Standard & Poor’s 500 Dem’s 12.1% increases in stock value verses GOP’s 5.1%.
- Since 1936 S&P 500 GAAP earnings per share had a Dem’s median average annual increase in corporate earnings 10.5% per year verses the GOP’s 8.9%.
Finally I’ll point to one of my new favorite books, Presimetics. Given my penchant for opinions based on facts, and not just opinions, I find this a great book. The authors do statistical analysis based on which party is in the presidency. From the mid 1970’s to mid 1990’s US debt and deficits were my #1 voting issue so I turned to that immediately.
They analyzed the annual change in deficit as a % of GDP. This is a good measure since it takes into account the size of the economy and makes inflation disappear from the numbers. It asks who changed the situation the most. Since Eisenhower’s administration they conclude:
- Three administrations changed US debt the most from highest increase in deb reduction to lowest, Clinton, Carter, and Eisenhower.
- All others increasingly added to the debt, with the greatest increase from George W Bush who took a large surplus to a big deficit. Check out this NPR story, What If We Paid Off The Debt? The Secret Government Report, about the concerns during the Clinton administration about what to do when the debt was paid off. Yes I mean concerns. After “W” the Bush Sr, and the Nixon/Ford administration follow.
- The annualized change in the deficit as a % of GDP was Dem’s -3% verses GOP +3% (pay attention to the sign of the number).
Analyzing the annual growth in the debt as a % of GDP they found:
- Reagan and Bush Sr had by far the largest annual growth in debt at about 6%, followed by George W Bush.
- The greatest annual decrease in debt was followed by the JFK/LBJ, Eisenhower, and Carter administrations.
- By party averages Dems reduced the debt as a % of GDP at an annualized rate of about 3% verses GOP increased at 2%.
The final and one of the most interesting measurements from the book was what they called the annualized growth in net real GDP per capita. I know, long phrase. But in different words it’s the yearly increase in domestic output per person based on inflation adjusted dollars, and taking away the economic doping the economy gets when an administration “charges it” and creates debt to juice the economy. As an example imagine you and your neighbor each have $50,000 net pay this year. But your neighbor charges $10,000. You don’t want to make that future obligation look like a great $10,000 increase in salary. Taking that juice away the national results are:
- The top three administrations in growing the economy are JFK/LBJ, Clinton, and Reagan.
- Biggest negative growth was George W Bush, followed by Bush Sr.
- Growth rates under these conditions are Dems about 3% verses GOP at 1%.
Unless you’re paying attention at the time you’d never guess these results. They seem so counter intuitive, like Nixon going to China to make peace. In the Reagan administration I was bewildered by the public perception verses the reality of what he was doing to the debt. Like Steve Jobs, Reagan had a “reality distortion field”.This was the seed of my interest in why people believe what they do in politics. Political cognition.