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Whose Economy?
July 17, 2002
By Dennis Elliot

Clinton is finally going to get the credit for the great economy of the 90's. After hearing for the eight years of Clinton's presidency that it was not the Clinton Economy but the Reagan Economy, President Bush on Monday 7/15/2002 gave Clinton the credit for the great economy of the last decade.

In a speech given at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Bush, according to Reuters News Service said, "America must get rid of the hangover that we now have as a result of the binge, the economic binge, we just went through." Bush added, "We were in a land of ... endless profit. There was no tomorrow when it came to the stock markets and corporate profits and now we're suffering a hangover for that binge." The report went on to say that "Without citing his predecessor, Democrat Bill Clinton, by name, Bush appeared to paint himself as having inherited an economy after a long period of excesses."

These Conservatives have more different stories don't they? The thing is, if you are going to lie successfully, you have to learn to keep your stories straight. Now what was it, the Clinton economy or the Reagan economy? Let's explore some history shall we?

From the NY Post on February 3rd, 1999 by Dinesh D'Souza, an article entitled, It's the Reagan Economy, Stupid. The first paragraph states:

President Clinton has survived an amazing succession of scandals because he presides over an era of peace and prosperity that most Americans assume he is responsible for creating. But in fact Clinton has had very little to do with the boom of the '90s. The president we should be thanking left office 10 years ago last month - Ronald Reagan.

From the Cato Institute on February 1st, 2000, an article with the exact same title, It's the Reagan Economy Stupid. But this one was written by Lawrence Kudlow and Stephen Moore. At the time, Lawrence Kudlow was chief economist at Schroder & Co., Inc. and CNBC.com. Stephen Moore was an economist at the Cato Institute. They said:

This week America crosses one of the great economic milestones in our nation's history. We will officially break the record for the longest business cycle expansion in U.S. history. The previous record was 106 months in the 1960s.

However, while the chattering heads in Washington are claiming that this expansion is sweet vindication for Clintonomics, they are wrong. Dead wrong. The politician most responsible for laying the groundwork for this prosperous era is not Bill Clinton, but Ronald Reagan. America's economic turnaround started in the early 1980s, a decade before Bill Clinton arrived in Washington.

From an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on 10/29/1998:

Today Americans are more prosperous than ever, with a per capita GDP of more than $30,000 a year. Government coffers are overflowing at both federal and state levels. Interest rates have been sinking and stocks, until recently, have been booming. Inflation has for practical purposes vanished, while unemployment is rare (would that we could finally drive a stake through the heart of the supposed trade-off between the two.)

Bill Clinton's part in all this evokes Napoleon's preference for lucky generals. He was supremely lucky to inherit the presidency with recovery already under way, though not discernible soon enough to help President Bush's electoral prospects. But Mr. Clinton was luckier still in picking his defeats; a balky Congress has twice saved him from his own worst instincts.

The early Clinton did leave one enduring economic legacy: Republican control of Congress. After two years of Hillary care and the BTU tax, not to mention an aura of scandal and personal instability, voters overturned four decades of Democratic legislative dominance. This is when the financial boom started.

So which is it? The Clinton economy or the Reagan economy? They just can't keep their stories straight can they?

What all of this really means is that President Bush does not have a clue about what to do about the economy. He has gotten a pass since September 11th. And we have let him get away with it.

We don't have a hangover. We didn't have a binge during the 90's. We had a great economy. The quotes from the conservative writers above prove that. Economies have cycles, and they require wise management to keep the slowdowns from becoming downturns. We don't have that wise management. Instead, we have a manager who chooses to just stand up and blame someone else for the problems he should be taking care of.

I hope the American people will demand more from President Bush. If we don't get it, we need to put a Congress in office in 2002 that will take the initiative to fix our problems. Then we need to put someone in office in 2004 who is mature enough and smart enough to handle being President.

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